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Last modified: 17 Jan 2023 4:58pm

an aerial view of playing fields and a construction site

A new Springs Ward park will weave together the history of the Canterbury plains with opportunities to make new stories in sports and recreation.

The first stage of Kakaha Park on Birchs and Leadleys Road south of Prebbleton is set to open in late November, with sports fields, a dog exercise area and off-road cycling and walking trails among the first areas to open.

The name Kakaha Park has been gifted to the Selwyn District by Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga for the 22 hectare park. Kakaha is the Māori word for the plant species Astelia fragrans or bush lily – a native flax-like plant often used for weaving by Māori, in conjunction with harakeke, kiekie, pīngao, to provide different colours and texture.

The name Kakaha Park recognises the location of this park in the network of mahika kai (food gathering) sites on Kā Pākihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha, the Canterbury Plains. There is evidence of kakaha on the Canterbury Plains prior to European settlement.

“We’re really grateful to both rūnanga for gifting us a beautiful name that ties in with the history of the area and the unique nature of this park, which will be something different for Selwyn. All plants in Kakaha Park will be New Zealand natives, so the name fits nicely with that. The connection to the trails and sites of mahika kai is special as well, as this park links in with the existing rail trail cycle network and our modern trails across the Plains, connecting from Lincoln through to Prebbleton and on,” says Council Acting Major Projects Manager Phil Millar.

The $17.2 million park is a three-stage project, providing additional recreation space for the rapidly growing area. The first stage will include three full-size and one half-size lit playing fields, wide walking and cycling paths, and a number of cycle features such as jumps, boardwalks and a snake run, as well as a mini playground, car parking and toilets.

The further stages will see a changing room and car parking opening next year, followed by more off-road bike trails, a water way and large areas of native planting over the next 10 years.