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Major Community Project To Celebrate Ōtaki And Tell Its Stories


Being bypassed by a major expressway has given the Kāpiti Coast town of Ōtaki a new lease of life, thanks to a unique community project that will keep it firmly on the map.

The project is designed to reaffirm Ōtaki as a thriving community with a cultural centre and a destination retail hub by sharing stories of the town’s people, history and character, including its success with Māori language revitalisation.

Elevate Ōtaki is a collaboration between community groups, business owners, cultural representatives, Kāpiti Coast District Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency to support the diversity of the town, lifting it up to be seen and heard, says project spokesperson Libby Hakaraia - an acclaimed NZ filmmaker and creative force behind the Ōtaki-based internationally recognised Maoriland Film Festival.

“We know we live in a unique, storied landscape and we wanted to share this widely,” she said.

It includes a stunning photography series depicting people and whānau who live, work and play in Ōtaki, along with their stories, produced as a set of large billboards and photographic artwork placed on buildings around the town and on State Highway 1. This powerful, community-integrated art installation is supported by a digital campaign with storytelling and social engagement.

The project also includes a new identity statement and a new logo that reflects the Ōtaki story, which will be officially revealed at the project’s launch next week.

The entire campaign is bilingual - reflecting Ōtaki as a town where Māori is heard widely due in part to it being the location of the first Māori university in New Zealand, Te Wānanga o Raukawa.

Kāpiti Coast District Councillor and Elevate Ōtaki committee member Angela Buswell says values and a sense of purpose for Ōtaki are some of the main drivers behind the project, especially in light of recent world events.

“Our world has changed,” she said.

“Values of diversity and inclusion are more important than ever and through these stories, Ōtaki is saying proudly, this is what we stand for.”

Buswell says supporting the town’s loyal retail sector was also a vital component, with the roading changes placing pressure on businesses even before COVID-19 hit. While a small number closed their doors, new businesses are choosing to open in Ōtaki, joining those who have been a huge part of the community for much longer.

“A lot of key relationships and connections have been formed or uncovered through the project through a willingness to collaborate between business, community and local government,” she said.

The Elevate Ōtaki project was funded jointly by KCDC and NZTA, and is the culmination of a series of community consultations including public and stakeholder meetings and engagement, preview feedback, and social media engagement and polling.

The logo and identity statement was developed by Ōtaki local, Fraser Carson and the project has been photographically curated and coordinated by Talk Creative, a Kāpiti-based organisation that specialises in helping communities thrive through the power of storytelling.

It will be officially launched, and the town’s new identity statement and logo revealed, on August 7th.

Major Community Project To Celebrate Ōtaki And Tell Its Stories



The Ōtaki Identity Story

Ōtaki is unique. We are a small coastal town in which we thrive – living, working and enjoying life as a community.

We are blessed with a temperate climate, rich soils and a stunning landscape.

We live between two beautiful rivers that flow from the rugged Tararua Ranges into the vast Tasman Sea. From our beach you see the mountains of the South Island, Taranaki and Ruapehu and the sunsets over Kāpiti Island are also spectacular.

Our uniqueness – and reason for being – can be traced through our history as a way-point. From the earliest times Ōtaki has offered hospitality to Māori and Pākehā traders, whalers and settlers.  Stagecoach travellers enjoyed a resting place in our town. This manaakitanga is deeply ingrained within our town’s values.

Pioneer settlers of varied nationalities have helped to build the character of our town. Our beliefs have been shaped from many multi-cultural stories and traditions.

Today we are a bilingual town with deep Māori and Pakehā relationships. We have become the epicentre of Māori language revival. Te reo Māori is spoken in our homes and on our streets.

We uphold diverse educational opportunities, a commitment to culture, to the arts, to Papatūānuku and to our stunning environment.

We have always nurtured our strong and generous sense of community. We are compassionate, accepting, connected, supportive and we get along. We value our independence and our lifestyle.

We are a small town aware of our unique environment, rich history, strong community and vibrant spirit.

A proud community.



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