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On 3 August, business owners and residents of the Waikato’s historic spa town of Te Aroha launched a head-to-head campaign against New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) in a last-ditch effort to get the Government agency to erect appropriate signage pointing toward the historic spa town.
Since launching its campaign, over 1100 people from throughout the region, and even several from overseas, have provided their names in support of the campaign at www.signupforasign.co.nz . Additionally, hundreds of Te Aroha businesses have been gathering names on petitions from their customers.
“We’ve been keeping tabs on the number of people providing their name in support of our campaign and we estimate we’ve had over 2000 people signing up in support,” says Te Aroha Business Association President, Shaun O’Neill.
Mr O’Neill says all names will be compiled after Wednesday, 15 August and a final letter of appeal will be sent to the Chief Executive of NZTA. A copy of the letter will also be sent to Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee, and Prime Minister John Key.
“The response we’re hearing from NZTA’s Waikato staff would indicate they aren’t budging. So, we’ll be taking our case to the top – to their Chief Executive. And, if we continue to get a negative response even though we meet all of NZTA’s criteria for a sign, we’ll take our appeal to the Ombudsman for review,” explains Mr O’Neill.
Mr O’Neill says the town has been asking for appropriate signage for over a year and, despite meeting all of NZTA’s requirements for an historical marker sign, have continued to be refused. Local businesses who are championing the request have reached the end of their tethers.
Local businesses owners turned their frustration with NZTA into a creative response when, in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, 3 August, they blanketed the town with dozens of brown historical marker signs.
The Te Aroha community wants to expand tourism in the town, with specific focus on: its historic thermal soda spa, the world’s only thermal soda geyser, the majestic Edwardian architecture in the historic Domain, the new Hauraki Rail Trail, the summit climb up Mount Te Aroha and its world-class mountain bike tracks.
People are being asked to provide their signatures of support for erecting an historic marker sign at www.signupforasign.co.nz by 15 August. Most businesses throughout the town also have sign-up sheets people can sign in person.
About Te Aroha’s Historic Town Status:
Te Aroha historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993
The Te Aroha Hot Springs were one of the main health spas developed in NZ in the late 1800s
It’s mineral waters have been compared to those of famous European spas
Up until 1902, Te Aroha was the most popular and most lucrative of the three government sanatoria
People came to sample the therapeutic and curative qualities of the baths, massage facilities, aortal treatment (graduated hill climbing up to Bald Spur) for heart disease and drink the mineral waters.
In 1903 the Department of Tourism and Health Resorts took over control of the domain
Te Aroha Mineral and Leisure Pools have been modernised in recent years and continue to be a tourist attraction for both regional and international visitors alike, many thousands of visitors each year.
In addition to the Domain Historic Area (including the hot springs), Matamata-Piako District Plan lists a further 19 items within Te Aroha which have been evaluated as having heritage value to the district. These include the following, which can be viewed along the Te Aroha Heritage Trail (http://www.mpdc.govt.nz/our-community/heritage-trails/te-aroha-heritage-trails.html):
o the Coulter and Railway Bridges
o the Grand Hotel
o the i-Site building
o the Miners Cottage
o Te Aroha Lodge
o Herries Park Memorial
o Tutumangaeo Stream
o Te Aroha Library
o The old courthouse
o the RSA Memorial Club
o the Memorial Clock
o the old ANZ Bank
o several area churches
o the WW1 Memorial
o Hinemoa House
o the old Maternity Hospital
o buildings within the Te Aroha Domain