Rangiora’s Beauty Battalion
Celebrating 21 years of Keep Rangiora Beautiful
Words Kim Newth
Imagine how Rangiora would look today if Keep Rangiora Beautiful (KRB) had never come into existence. Take our word for it – it wouldn’t be as attractive as it is now!
Many of us may have little awareness of the hard work put in by the group’s volunteers over the last 21 years, but the town has benefited hugely from their commitment. More than 8000 trees and shrubs have been established by the group … in terms of time, it equates to roughly 6450 hours of voluntary effort. What an amazing achievement and one deserving of acknowledgement.
Ron and Barbara Mackie, founding KRB members, spent time with me recently going through the many beautifying projects that have enhanced Rangiora’s good looks over the years. Ron is a former deputy principal of Rangiora High School, while Barbara is a skilled and talented home gardener. “Rangiora is such a nice town and we love doing what we can to improve it, along with other like-minded people,” explains Ron. “If we see something that needs doing, we get stuck in and do it. Over 40 areas have now been planted.”
Let’s start with Lineside Rd. In 1992, it wasn’t a particularly inspiring drive and had very little in the way of roadside planting. Then KRB and Transit NZ got their heads together and came up with an ‘Adopt-a-Highway’ scheme for the 4.5km highway between Kaiapoi and Rangiora. They started with just four 50m plots; now there are 17 and one of them is even providing a natural habitat for a pukeko family. This successful trial saw similar schemes repeated throughout New Zealand. It all started here.
The Ashley Bridge picnic area was one of KRB’s first big projects and included lots of plantings to provide wind shelter, with alcoves for family groups. This popular reserve was subsequently further enhanced by the Waimakariri District Council’s (WDC) reserves department.
Lobbying by KRB also led to the fast-tracking of plans to underground power lines in Percival Street. “It used to have all these higgledy-piggledy power poles and an open drain. It really wasn’t very attractive at all.
“Our whole aim has always been to try and improve the appearance of Rangiora to visitors. Quite often it’s the first impressions of a town that make the biggest impact,” says Ron, who is currently serving as KRB’s secretary.
No wonder then that KRB has also focused a huge amount of effort into beautifying the main railway line corridor through Rangiora. Plantings on both frontages extend for about 500m. “We started planting down by the Warehouse end some nine or ten years ago and we’re now nearly at Wales Street,” says Ron. Rangiora High School students assisted with that project through one of the school’s environmental clubs.
The battle against graffiti in Rangiora has seen around 400 sq. m painted out using paint provided by Keep NZ Beautiful (KNZB), sponsored by Resene. Rangiora Lions also assisted.
Other major KRB planting projects include the Northbrook Studios area, the Town Hall reserve and cairn, and the Keir St Reserve. The latter used to be a rough paddock off East Belt, but is now a pleasant and landscaped 50m x 30m reserve.
On the go currently is more planting at a Southbrook stream-side reserve.
Every beautifying project involves plenty of planning, spraying and mulching. Average active membership of about 12 has been boosted with regular support from local schools, the public, service clubs, the WDC and local businesses.
A memorable part of the KRB team is ALB, a man-sized Anti Litter Bug, who has helped to promote Clean Up NZ week to local schoolchildren, along with an associated slogan – ‘Every day, please pick up at least one more piece of litter than you drop.’
All this effort hasn’t gone unnoticed, with KRB picking up awards over the years from KNZB, Environment Canterbury and WDC.
Following the two big earthquakes, KRB is in discussion with the council over carrying out a beautifying project to assist Kaiapoi.
On May 18, the group is also hosting a South Island ‘zone’ meeting of similar groups, with KNZB representative Mary Brown attending.
The closing words, supplied by Ron and Barbara, are from the late Trevor Inch, the group’s founding mayor, who wrote the following for KRB’s 1993 annual report:
‘Important as these concrete achievements undoubtedly are, what is even more important is the positive example expressed in attitudes and relationships which add to human dignity and increase the continuing capacity of communities to help themselves to achieve goals which they determine for themselves.’