Star park proposed on top of Kaiti Hill

Kaiti Hill observatory could be demolished to make way for new star park.

Kaiti Hill observatory could be demolished to make way for new star park.

Star Compass - one option being considered.
Star Compass

THE summit of Kaiti Hill could be the site of a star park that could be a major tourist attraction but the James Cook Observatory on Titirangi might have to be demolished, the District Council’s Future Tairawhiti Committee was told.

After a presentation from architects Locales, the committee approved a rebuild concept that would include a Tairawhiti Night Experience, construction of a star compass, installation of a sculptural star park and development of a digital night guide.

The committee did not approve a recommendation to demolish the observatory and contruct a new one in the meantime.

Locales owner/creative director Chris Hay and Ngati Oneone representative Nick Tupara told the committee they had now come up with the broader idea of a Tairawhiti Night Experience that centres on the night sky around Titirangi.

It would link with the Navigations project and would give a Ngati Oneone lens on the night sky. It could also be aimed at group learners as well as individuals.

Included is a Tairawhiti stories package, a star compass, the installation of sculptures for a star park and the development of a digital night guide.

It was impossible to build a star compass around the existing observatory or do anything inside because there was not enough room, he said.

The star compass would allow people to look at the horizon and have 360 degree views. Seating would allow people to sit back and lounge while looking at the night sky.

There was one in Napier but this would be unique to Titirangi.

Mr Tupara said Ngati Oneone had always been enthusiastic about redeveloping their maunga (hill) and at this stage they would definitely support progression of the project to the next level.

There was an opportunity to rebuild the top of the mountain and bring a uniqueness to the district that went further than what Napier and other districts were doing.

“This is an opportunity to start again, if you like,” he said. “I don’t know if anybody has ever rebuilt the top of a mountain before. It is an extraordinary opportunity.”

It had the potential to create something iconic for the city, said Mr Tupara.

Andy Cranston said this was the one unique place where “everybody goes.” It was a premiere visitor location. There were problems with the existing observatory sinking in one corner. The council needed to be brave and take these opportunities.

Amber Dunn liked the idea of a journey from the foot of the mountain to the top and the synergy the project had with the Navigations project. It would be an amazing educational resource.

Brian Wilson said it was a fantastic concept but he had one concern. This was something new that had never been part of the council’s community infrastructure.

There were a lot of financial challenges ahead for the council and the report only briefly mentioned where finance might come from.

Community will needed

“I want to be cautious around this,” said Mr Wilson. “I don’t want the council to be left with the baby. The council should get a definite commitment from the community to help fund-raise for this. “

Josh Wharehinga said he was passionate about the stars and the observatory, but he agreed with the financial concerns.

It was not very pleasant going up there at present, with used beer bottles lying around. There were huge conversations going on in the community about blocking that off, so there was a wider conversation to have.

GDC chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said GHD consultants had provided a rough order cost of $141,000 to refurbish the existing observatory but she doubted that figure as there were also land stability measures that needed to be taken into account following the geo-technical review.

THE summit of Kaiti Hill could be the site of a star park that could be a major tourist attraction but the James Cook Observatory on Titirangi might have to be demolished, the District Council’s Future Tairawhiti Committee was told.

After a presentation from architects Locales, the committee approved a rebuild concept that would include a Tairawhiti Night Experience, construction of a star compass, installation of a sculptural star park and development of a digital night guide.

The committee did not approve a recommendation to demolish the observatory and contruct a new one in the meantime.

Locales owner/creative director Chris Hay and Ngati Oneone representative Nick Tupara told the committee they had now come up with the broader idea of a Tairawhiti Night Experience that centres on the night sky around Titirangi.

It would link with the Navigations project and would give a Ngati Oneone lens on the night sky. It could also be aimed at group learners as well as individuals.

Included is a Tairawhiti stories package, a star compass, the installation of sculptures for a star park and the development of a digital night guide.

It was impossible to build a star compass around the existing observatory or do anything inside because there was not enough room, he said.

The star compass would allow people to look at the horizon and have 360 degree views. Seating would allow people to sit back and lounge while looking at the night sky.

There was one in Napier but this would be unique to Titirangi.

Mr Tupara said Ngati Oneone had always been enthusiastic about redeveloping their maunga (hill) and at this stage they would definitely support progression of the project to the next level.

There was an opportunity to rebuild the top of the mountain and bring a uniqueness to the district that went further than what Napier and other districts were doing.

“This is an opportunity to start again, if you like,” he said. “I don’t know if anybody has ever rebuilt the top of a mountain before. It is an extraordinary opportunity.”

It had the potential to create something iconic for the city, said Mr Tupara.

Andy Cranston said this was the one unique place where “everybody goes.” It was a premiere visitor location. There were problems with the existing observatory sinking in one corner. The council needed to be brave and take these opportunities.

Amber Dunn liked the idea of a journey from the foot of the mountain to the top and the synergy the project had with the Navigations project. It would be an amazing educational resource.

Brian Wilson said it was a fantastic concept but he had one concern. This was something new that had never been part of the council’s community infrastructure.

There were a lot of financial challenges ahead for the council and the report only briefly mentioned where finance might come from.

Community will needed

“I want to be cautious around this,” said Mr Wilson. “I don’t want the council to be left with the baby. The council should get a definite commitment from the community to help fund-raise for this. “

Josh Wharehinga said he was passionate about the stars and the observatory, but he agreed with the financial concerns.

It was not very pleasant going up there at present, with used beer bottles lying around. There were huge conversations going on in the community about blocking that off, so there was a wider conversation to have.

GDC chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said GHD consultants had provided a rough order cost of $141,000 to refurbish the existing observatory but she doubted that figure as there were also land stability measures that needed to be taken into account following the geo-technical review.

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Enraged - 2 years ago
Gisborne needs an observatory.
This joke of a pathetic but costly 'Star Park' appropriately resembles a giant cow pat!
A total turd of an idea!

Heather van Wyk - 2 years ago
Do not demolish the observatory. Restore it. I took all my children to see the moon and the stars for only two dollars on a Tuesday night. I would like to be able to take my grandchildren as well.

Druid - 2 years ago
The Tarawhiti Night Experince design of the Star Park Complex is a fantastic concept, as it 'lens' itself to a modern version of Stone Henge (the latter still drawing thousands of visitors world-wide each year. Astronomically speaking, it would showcase Titirangi to an even greater extent if Ngati Oneone shared the special significance of each pou, it's position, and relevant story.

Unconvinced - 2 years ago
All I can imagine is the site being used as a drinking hangout (and whatever) spot for people and the rubbish they leave. I would not feel safe taking my kids up there at night to look at the stars.

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