Te Puna Quarry Park: 20 years on

From left: Te Puna Quarry Society secretary Dulcie Artus, founding member Shirley Sparks, retired Western Bay of Plenty mayor Maureen J. Anderson, and society chair Ian Cross – all 20 year veterans. Photos and video: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Click the image above to watch the video

It's one of the Western Bay's iconic destinations, and today it's celebrating its 20th anniversary.

This afternoon a private gathering took place at Te Puna Quarry Park to mark 20 years since volunteers first began renovating the site.

The invitation-only party was attended by Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless, as well as councillors from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

Te Puna Quarry Park founder Shirley Sparks says prior to the Te Puna Quarry Park Society taking over management of the crown land, it took three years of working through bureaucracy to realise their dream. Before that, the quarry was a key part of the local economy, before work ceased in the 1970s.

“It's played a very important part in the life of the Bay of Plenty, particularly around Tauranga. It's supplied hundreds and hundreds of tonnes of rocks for bridges and construction since the early 1900s.”

She knows a lot about the quarry's history, having lived alongside it for most of her life.

“Our farm used to have a boundary on the quarry. We lived with the blasting of the rocks in the evenings, when we were milking cows – and we were under the cows' tails! They always did the blasting at 4.30 in the afternoon.”

Today's celebrations have been contained to a few invited guests, simply because there isn't the capacity to include the public. But Shirley hopes the key people have been thanked.

“Contributors, volunteers, supporters, encouragers – all those wonderful people who've helped, particularly in the early years.”

She's pleased, in particular, to have Tauranga's mayor in attendance, having known him from his days as an entertainer.

“Greg Brownless was associated with the quarry very early on. We had concerts in the amphitheatre – still do, of course – which Bob Addison was very involved in. He brought in Greg Brownless with his piano accordion, and he was a great entertainer. Nothing like a mayor at that stage! So it's great to welcome him back.”

Retired Western Bay of Plenty mayor Maureen J. Anderson has been involved with the park since its inception, and thinks it's exactly the sort of thing councils should get behind.

“All the rules and regulations councils have in place don't always assist communities to achieve what communities want. I always thought this was what councils were for – to support this sort of thing in the community.

“For me councils are nothing unless they listen to and validate what communities want, because they are the glue that sticks all this together.”

Shirley recalls, when the idea of the quarry park was in its infancy, that people were initially sceptical as to whether it would be successful. She believes the naysayers have been proved wrong.

“When we first started, people thought we were mad. None of us, even those who were enthusiastic, thought it would turn out to be what it is. It has come as a lovely surprise.”

Today's celebrations included a light lunch, followed by the planting of two kauri trees and the release of some monarch butterflies.

The society also wishes to let people know they're on the lookout for new members. Anyone interested in joining should email info@quarrypark.org.nz

Mary Parkinson, left, released the monarch butterflies this afternoon, with Jo Dawkins. Mary and Jo are sisters, born in Tauranga. Jo used to live in Quarry Road and both have been members since the park started.

From left: Grant Bayley, Trixie Twigge, Audrey Hesson, and Norm Twigge look at the photos, community awards, and artifacts unearthed from the grounds.

Creative Bay of Plenty general manager Lena Kovac and Ian Cross with the park's new sculpture. The sculptor is Nic Clegg, and the large springs were donated by Trustpower. The sculpture is also made of corten steel, which is designed to rust. Partly funded by Creative Communities Scheme Western Bay with the Te Puna Quarry Park paying for the remainder.

Ian and Shirley cutting the cake.

Mayor Greg Brownless, founding member Chas Kerr, Li-Jong Liao, Western Bay of Plenty councillor Don Thwaites, and Caroline Thwaites.

Greg and Don planting a kauri.

The society's oldest member, 99-year-old Alf Rendell.


Absolutely amazing folk

Posted on 13-02-2017 22:36 | By Murray.Guy

Absolutely amazing folk for firstly their vision and second their commitment and stamina to see it through. Te Puna Park Quarry is a regional treasure which has been 'gifted to us' by the generosity of these wonderful people.

Thank you

Posted on 12-02-2017 18:11 | By overit

to everyone concerned with this project. Its an amazing place of peace and beauty. The Bay always blows me away with its generosity and sense of community.

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