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?