Does Porirua need a town clock?


John Pop­ple­ton is still sad he never got his clock. The for­mer co-or­di­na­tor of Keep Porirua Beau­ti­ful, who is also an in­ven­tor, thought the no­tion of a town clock for Porirua was a good one.

‘‘It was a cool idea,’’ he said. ‘‘There was an old one at the [Porirua City Coun­cil] nurs­ery, but it was big and old and rusty and barely re­sem­bled a clock any more.

‘‘In about 2005 we put the idea out there for a town clock in the city, but it didn’t take hold like we hoped.’’

Pop­ple­ton said the idea was not a new one.

For­mer mayor Jenny Brash said Jas­mine Un­der­hill, her deputy mayor in her first term, from 1998 till 2001, raised it more than once in that term.

‘‘Jas­mine re­ally wanted it and there was plenty of talk around, but it al­ways seemed to come back to ‘where do we put it and do we need it?’

‘‘From mem­ory, it was some­thing that got put on the back­burner and then other things like Trans­mis­sion Gully, the pro­posed re­gional hospi­tal and the Porirua City cen­tre up­grade took prece­dence, so the clock never re­ally emerged again.’’

Fast for­ward a few years and Pop­ple­ton said it was some­thing he did his best to get com­mu­nity sup­port for.

There was even a pri­vate backer for the project – well­known Ti­tahi Bay res­i­dent John Wat­son – but, again, civic pa­tron­age was not forth­com­ing.

Pop­ple­ton en­vis­aged some­thing in the CBD, sus­pended on wires like the large ball in Welling­ton’s Civic Square, as op­posed to the brick ed­i­fice that can be seen on the main streets of some towns in New Zealand.

It has been es­ti­mated a clock would cost about $16,000.

‘‘I was try­ing to be a bit in­no­va­tive, think­ing a bit more mod­ern. You could’ve had four sides to it, not just one.’’

Porirua City coun­cil­lors weren’t in­ter­ested, he said, and there were ‘‘too many strings at­tached’’. A town clock was not seen as nec­es­sary to the city cen­tre re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion, Pop­ple­ton be­lieved.

He was dis­ap­pointed the project did not gain any trac­tion.

‘‘It was sad, be­cause I thought a town clock could be­come part of the city’s iden­tity and char­ac­ter, some­thing peo­ple look for.

‘‘I wanted to hold a de­sign com­pe­ti­tion among res­i­dents to re­ally get peo­ple on board and try and give the clock a Porirua flavour. The ball def­i­nitely got rolling, es­pe­cially with John [Wat­son] agree­ing to fund it, but I think the coun­cil just de­cided it was too hard.’’

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said a town clock is a good idea and could help iden­tify where Porirua’s city cen­tre ac­tu­ally was.

How­ever, a prop­erly thoughtout sub­mis­sion would be re­quired to con­vince coun­cil­lors and coun­cil of­fi­cers to fund it, he said.

When the idea of a Porirua town clock was raised on the Kapi-Mana News Face­book page, the re­sponses were im­me­di­ate and mixed.

‘‘Who needs a clock? Ev­ery­one has one in their pocket. I think Porirua be­ing a young city would just falsely age it­self with this ad­di­tion,’’ Sian Mercer said.

‘‘Great idea! It’s civil­is­ing,’’ said Joyce Owen.

‘‘I reckon yes, we do need one and it would be awe­some. Per­haps it could be erected over in the [Ha­gley St] park­ing lot be­side the ANZ Bank,’’ said Shar­maine Muncey.

‘‘It would be a huge waste of money that could be bet­ter spent else­where,’’ com­mented Kelly Eteve­neaux.

The New Ply­mouth town clock, which first started tick­ing in 1907. Does Porirua need one?

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