Pau­ata­hanui stal­wart re­flects

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Alan Gray, re­garded by many as the con­sum­mate Pau­ata­hanui res­i­dent, is typ­i­cally mod­est about his stand­ing in the com­mu­nity.

De­spite shar­ing his sur­name with one of Pau­ata­hanui’s main roads and hav­ing been a spokesman on lo­cal is­sues for years, Mr Gray pointed out that he went to Plim­mer­ton School rather than Pau­ata­hanui School seven decades ago.

‘‘I’m a bit of a fraud as a lo­cal boy. I’ve traded a bit on the fam­ily name,’’ he said.

Mr Gray, a for­mer can­cer spe­cial­ist, is just as hum­ble about his ca­reer, dis­miss­ing a gong he re­ceived from for­mer Prime Min­is­ter He­len Clark.

His friend and for­mer col­league Dr Peter Dady, how­ever, said Wellington Hos­pi­tal’s can­cer ward should be named af­ter Mr Gray, who helped in­sti­tute the coun­try’s breast and cer­vi­cal can­cer screen­ing pro­grammes.

Mr Gray is step­ping down as sec­re­tary of the Pau­ata­hanui Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion, a po­si­tion he has held since 2006.

‘‘Get­ting too old,’’ the 76-yearold said.

Younger peo­ple were start­ing to come through the as­so­ci­a­tion’s ranks, which was an en­cour­ag­ing sign in a vil­lage that no longer had the com­mu­nity sen­si­bil­ity it once had, Mr Gray said.

‘‘There was al­ways some­thing go­ing on at the lo­cal hall. You can’t get that now,’’ he said.

‘‘Peo­ple come to the coun­try and buy their five-hectare block and it’s like a lit­tle bunker for them. It’s a lit­tle bit of par­adise they want in the coun­try – but the par­adise is a lot big­ger than five hectares, so they should take a bit more in­ter­est.’’

With Trans­mis­sion Gully con- struc­tion start­ing next year, Pau­ata­hanui could use the sup­port of its mil­lion­aires and high­fly­ing civil ser­vants, Mr Gray said.

‘‘There’s a whole lot of tal­ent out there. I just wish we could tap into it more, be­cause there’s re­ally go­ing to be a mas­sive change. In 15 or 20 years, you prob­a­bly won’t recog­nise it.’’

Mr Gray said a con­struc­tion depot would be built just me­tres from Pau­ata­hanui vil­lage while Trans­mis­sion Gully took shape, and the site might be used for big-box re­tail­ing af­ter­wards.

‘‘ My par­tic­u­lar prob­lem is how to pre­serve the in­let.

‘‘You can see what’s hap­pened in Porirua with all the in­dus­trial sites – it’s just ru­ined the har­bour.’’

A chang­ing Pau­ata­hanui is bit­ter­sweet for Mr Gray.

He said he would like to see more life in­jected into the vil­lage, which was kept alive now by the thriv­ing school, but he wanted the main street and sur­round­ing land­scape to re­tain their char­ac­ter.

‘‘ I wouldn’t like to see too much hap­pen to the vil­lage, but you can’t stop things.’’

One of the Pau­ata­hanui Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion’s big­gest suc­cesses in Mr Gray’s time was cre­at­ing a land­scape plan with Porirua City Coun­cil, which pro­tected the vil­lage’s iconic ridges from de­vel­op­ment in ex­change for smaller sub­di­vi­sion sizes in the gul­lies.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion came af­ter years of ac­ri­mony, es­pe­cially when the coun­cil tried to in­sti­tute a sep­tic tank reg­is­ter in 2010 with­out con­sul­ta­tion.

‘‘I was ab­so­lutely fu­ri­ous they would go ahead with­out talk­ing to us,’’ Mr Gray said.

Other PRA suc­cesses in­cluded Pau­ata­hanui’s vil­lage plan, its just-re­leased his­tory book and the re­sis­tance to a pro­posed Puke­tiro wind farm, Mr Gray said.

‘‘I be­lieve in global warm­ing, but I don’t be­lieve in de­stroy­ing the coun­try.’’

Mr Gray would like to see Pau­ata­hanui’s old farms re­turned to con­ser­va­tion land, but has not de­cided what to do with his own 150 acres, part of the Gray fam­ily’s orig­i­nal 1700-acre block.

His brothers’ fam­i­lies share the rest of the old block, but the sec­tion Mr Gray shares with wife Chris­tine Stan­ley is too small to di­vide be­tween his four chil­dren.

Gen­tri­fi­ca­tion and sub­ur­ban­i­sa­tion were in­evitable in Pau­ata­hanui as the re­main­ing few farms were sub­di­vided, Mr Gray said.

In the 1960s there was a plan to cre­ate a six-sub­urb ‘‘Pau­ata­hanui City’’.

The plans were scup­pered by the 1973 oil cri­sis, but could still come true, Mr Gray said.

‘‘ In the end you can say Pau­ata­hanui City is tak­ing shape.’’

Photo: AN­DREA O’NEIL

Re­tir­ing: Alan Gray en­cour­ages young peo­ple to take his place on Pau­ata­hanui Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion as the vil­lage en­ters a pe­riod of growth and change.

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