Cockles pointing the way
Names can be misleading, so while you might think Pauatahanui was named for paua, it is cockles which are significant in the village’s history.
And now that history is being celebrated, with nine large white cockle shell sculptures appearing in the village centre in June.
Paua is a generic term for bivalve shellfish, says Alan Gray, secretary of the Pauatahanui Residents’ Association, who worked with Porirua City Council to have the cockles installed.
Cockle shells have been found in ancient middens or waste pits all along Pauatahanui Inlet, and the shellfish were still abundant when Mr Gray was a boy, when he would eat them on the way home from school.
‘‘The cockle shells are quite an important part of the inlet.’’
The concrete cockles were installed as part of the council’s village plan scheme, in response to community feedback about beautifying the village centre.
‘‘We’re very pleased with the way the village is sprucing up,’’ Mr Gray says.
Each cockle weighs 80 kilograms and the concrete was mixed from white sand collected by their Nelson-based sculptor, Andrew Bryden. The cockles cost $850 each.
A week after they were installed, a cockle was stolen under the cover of night, and surfaced in an embarrassed local’s garden, but the theft was just a prank, Mr Gray says.
‘‘ It was probably someone from Whitby,’’ he jokes.
The cockles have been placed strategically to draw attention to the entrance to the Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve, one of the most significant areas of marshland in the country, council landscape architect Andrew Gray says.
The concrete cockles are just one stage of improvements included in Pauatahanui’s village plan, the suburb’s council project manager Jason Harvey-Wills says. Already the council has installed speed bumps at the entrance to the village and filled in ‘‘monster potholes’’ in its main footpath, he says.
Up next is a new bus stop in the village centre and plans for a ‘‘green buffer zone’’ to isolate the village from nearby Transmission Gully when it is built.