From un­der the canopies

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By SOPHIE LEGGETT

The Canopies in Porirua’s CBD have pro­vided a dis­tinc­tive white ceil­ing for shop­pers and busi­ness own­ers for 20 years.

Porirua City Coun­cil in­stalled the Canopies in 1994 with the aim of re­ju­ve­nat­ing the city, but over the past few years there has in­creas­ingly been a feel­ing that they are past their use-by date.

The cov­ered shop­ping area is the main fo­cus for the coun­cil’s city cen­tre re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion project, with Aus­tralian de­signer David Eng­wich over­see­ing plans to trans­form the area.

Florist Kamini Soma owns one of the most re­cent businesses to set up un­der the Canopies, Flower Work­shop Florist, which she opened on her birth­day last Au­gust.

Soma had been in the flower busi­ness for 11 years, but de­cided to branch out on her own af­ter some care­ful plan­ning and or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Al­though she had spent some time work­ing in Welling­ton af­ter tak­ing a floristry course at Whi­tireia, she de­cided to open her first busi­ness in the city she had close ties with.

‘‘I have strong fam­ily con­nec­tions with Porirua, and I know people around the area,’’ she said.

Part of her de­ci­sion was be­cause of her ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing in the area, but she said there was also a need for a florist in the city cen­tre.

Soma said busi­ness had been good, and she had re­cently ex­panded her shop floor.

‘‘I started with only a small part of the shop, but I’ve moved it back and made it big­ger as busi­ness has picked up,’’ she said.

‘‘ It can be a slow start in the morn­ings, but you never know what the day can bring . . . some­times it can get re­ally busy.’’

She said she’d like to set an ex­am­ple for other businesses to come to Porirua, and thought people would be more en­cour­aged to come to the area if there was a greater va­ri­ety of shops.

She had no hes­i­ta­tion in nam­ing her favourite part of work­ing un­der the Canopies.

‘‘I re­ally like the people you meet here . . . ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent.’’

Suresh Masters, the owner of Jay­lons Cake and Cof­fee House, has kept his busi­ness next to the Canopies for about 26 years.

‘‘ In those days there was no K-Mart and no Mega Cen­tre. All the big shops, like Noel Leem­ing . . . they were all here,’’ he said.

Masters said he be­lieved the ar­rival of the Mega Cen­tre in 1999 had brought the most change to the Canopies area. ‘‘It spread ev­ery­thing out across the city, and made the area here a bit tougher. The foot traf­fic has gone down.’’ Masters had a pos­i­tive view of the Canopies, par­tic­u­larly be­cause they ‘‘keep ev­ery­thing un­der one roof, and pro­vide shel­ter from the rain.’’

He liked the idea of re­vi­tal­is­ing the area and cre­at­ing some­thing new out of the Canopies area, though he was un­sure as to how coun­cil could go about it. ‘‘You need some­thing to draw people in, but I’m not sure what that is,’’ he said.

‘‘There should be more businesses here . . . that would cre­ate more of an at­mos­phere, and then more businesses and bet­ter shops would soon fol­low.’’

Photo: SOPHIE LEGGETT

Well es­tab­lished:

Jayshree Masters, left, her hus­band Suresh Masters, and his sis­ter Laxmi Tai­lor.

Photo: SOPHIE LEGGETT

Flower power: Kamini Soma, who has set up a florist un­der the Canopies.

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