Paekakariki Online – a community report on progress

It’s sometimes said that good things take time. Well, sometimes they take Paekakariki time.  Over the last 18 months a talented, eclectic collective of locals has been working on a rather special web platform for the village, by the village. Here’s their update.

Paekakariki Online, has been making steady albeit slower progress than envisaged over 2017. There has however been significant work across the sites’ many areas. A dozen locals have continued to meet monthly and move their different sections along in between, and they have in turn reached out to dozens of writers, photographers and organisations. The site comes under the auspices of publishers Paekakariki Informed Community Inc (who bring you Paekakariki 88.2FM and once brought you newspaper Paekakarki Xpressed and a Paekakariki Directory). We welcome your help be it writing, editorial or a donation to assist its development (contact here)

For those asking themselves ‘Yes, but what exactly is Paekakariki Online?’ – this video, created a year ago, still provides a faithful, charming guide. Content and structure for the website has been worked out by a Paekakariki publishing collective containing web, design, information architecture and editorial expertise – bringing our professional work skills together. In late 2016 purpose and audience were tested in workshops, and the site’s architecture established working with Maria McMillan. Editorial content for the different sections has been commissioned and completed through different editorial groups.

Key is a mobile friendly home page that provides easy links to all sections and key information. Also key is the prioritisation of links to existing websites and information – the website does not seek to replicate other resources in existence but rather support them and give them stronger online presence.

What’s in there and how’s it progressing?

  • One click links to weather, surf and train timetables on the homepage
  • A community events calendar on the homepage – from regular opportunities like yoga to concerts – allowing you to see daily/weekly/monthly listings.
  • Everything fully searchable on the homepage
  • Key community information – developed in partnership with the community board
  • The masthead/logo for the site, at the top of this page, has been designed by Holly Jane Ewans.
  • A things-to-do guide, with relevant writing and links under sections: ‘On foot’ ‘On bike’ ‘At the beach’ and ‘With kids’. Numerous local writers have contributed guides to walks, bike rides, entertainment and other activity, including some creative responses. Edited by Tina Pope and Louise Thornley.
  • A short guide to Paekakariki and a set of ‘Meet the Locals’ bios with images by Sylvia Bagnall (with editing support from Mark Amery and Hugh Brown)
  • A ‘Paekakariki Xpressed’ blog section with regular commissioned articles and other writing, the first is already in.
  • A clubs and groups section edited by Holly Jane Ewans providing pages’ update-able for all community groups (or links to their existing sites), free with editorial support. Many clubs and groups have already provided information.
  • A ‘Directory of Everything’ Paekakariki – linking people to other people with skills and trades to offer. Editor Flo McNeill. There will be free listings, but in the new year we will be going out to all local businesses for their support with paid listings for a modest annual fee that will help enable the website to be self-sufficient and provide strong visibility. We all need to be in this together.
  • ‘Places to Stay’ and to ‘Eat and Drink’ sections. Editor: Amelia Nurse
  • The technical platform development has been led by Miles Thompson with the assistance of Grant Lees and Daniel Bar-Evan, and now joining them Patrick Corrieri. Site hosting is being provided by local company Groundtruth (who provide free wi-fi in the village and support Paekakariki FM). While good progress has been made on many key technical aspects of the website, it’s proven harder to resource so we are not yet in a place to share with the community initial pages. The technical team however is expanding and thanks to the very generous sponsorship of Correri’s company Drycactus we are looking to have a paid technical role early in the new year to support the initial development of the platform.
  • About $5000 has been raised over time to contribute to the development costs, with fundraising led by PICI chair Paul Radich
  • Strong images are key to a great site and our Illustrations editor is photographer Mark Coote. He has been developing rules and processes around the sites images, taking images (on the ground and from above) and commissioning others from locals.
  • Co-ordinator for the site’s development is Mark Amery and the administrator is Linda McLaughlin. Both have extensive experience in publishing, communications and management work, and at a local community level.

Finally, some background

How did we get here? Mid 2016 saw the agreement by Paekakariki Informed Community Inc to proceed with the site development following consultation with the Paekakariki Community board, following their own community survey early in the year. After initial research, the collective was formed.

Why now? Paekakariki is at a significant point in its history. Changes in roading will soon see the village lose its long-held position as a staging post. Pressure for Paekakariki to be more resilient and sustainable, and market itself as a destination, will increase. The need for the community to lead change, to look after each other, becomes even more important.

Luckily, in recent years the village has also started to develop a strong reputation as a destination and hub for surrounding recreational and cultural activity, quality small locally owned business, and exciting community initiatives that harness the knowledge and passions of residents. The question is – as opportunities continue to grow – what say will the local community have in these opportunities? This will be important in enabling Paekakariki to fulfill our vision for it to become a leading national example of a forward-looking, resilient community. The more Paekakariki can recognise its skills and internal community the more it is prepared.

Between 2001-2011 Paekakariki Informed Communities Incorporated (PICI – more details below) published Paekakariki Xpressed, a local newspaper by the community for the community acclaimed for its journalistic quality, advertising support and the editorial support provided for the community to express their views. PICI also published a skills directory at that time and in 2013 now a registered charity established community radio station Paekakariki FM ( In 2012 ‘Paekakariki Tauhokohoko’, a trading site for residents was established on Facebook, renowned for its success as a community communication tool, with over one-third of all residents’ members.

Paekakariki is an engaged, expressive community others want to be a part of.

Why a web platform?

  • Through public consultation 2015-16 Paekakariki Community Board established that supporting the development of a web platform for the village is a key step in Paekakariki becoming a strong, sustainable community.
  • Our modest size sees the majority of Paekakariki businesses and community groups without a strong web presence, nor local information always easy to access.
  • Paekakariki Tauhokohoko and Paekakariki Xpressed have demonstrated the significant engagement of local citizens in local affairs but beyond Paekakariki FM we do not have our own local media and not all engage with Facebook.
  • Visitors to Paekakariki and residents alike have nowhere they can visit online for listings of upcoming events or for information on opening hours of local businesses or facilities. They need one place to go – a gateway.
  • With the opening of the bike trail and popular walkways to the south and north, visitors need key information quickly and are interested in getting an overview of the amenities available to them when visiting.

Research undertaken nationally shows such a web platform is employed in most other towns close to major cities that have had to evolve their identities as destinations (i.e. that are not on major road networks). We are able to see their variable success in meeting their goals both as a community resource and marketing tool.

Due to our major city proximity, we are lucky in Paekakariki to have resident a wealth of expertise in the areas of communications, web design and structure and editing – a network which has started to come together around PICI and other recent community initiatives. This has been assembled.

Constant feedback from web professionals and designers regarding major service web portals is that the success of a web platform today is its ability to be more than just a set of links and static information – communities are ever changing. Fresh content is required to generate traffic and high search results, otherwise websites quickly become irrelevant despite substantial initial outlay. is a vital tool in providing:

  • a centralised hub for information for both visitors to Paekakariki and residents
  • promotion of Paekakariki as a destination
  • an economic development platform for our businesses
  • sharing of ideas, views and debate on important issues to Paekakariki
  • asserting the strong distinct character of Paekakariki
  • strong local independent media
  • supporting local groups with group/organisation pages within the site – maintained by these groups with professional community support.
  • Constantly up to date information and activity.

Questions? Enquiries: Paul Radich (PICI Chair) 021 673 777, or Mark Amery 027 3566 128 ([email protected])