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Blast to the Past In Wonderous Waiuku

It's all happening!

by Lucy Mullinger

The annual Waiuku Blast to the Past family entertainment event is being held in November and it is set to be better than the rest, with a spectacular, professional fireworks display, family entertainment and a variety of craft and food markets for the family to enjoy. Lucy Mullinger looks back at what has been achieved in the region and what makes Waiuku special enough to have a whole festival dedicated to it.

Each year, the popular event, which is run by the Waiuku Business and Development Association, takes place in order to celebrate the region and encourage businesses to work together. With added pressure to keep fireworks under wraps and strict times that the fireworks are allowed to be sold, for the three days up to Guy Fawkes – November 2nd to 5th, events like the Blast to the Past are a great way for families to enjoy the fun and excitement of a professional fireworks display, without the danger and noise that they create letting them off privately.

The event has been taking place for six years now, since 2012 and, while it was initially designed to try and encourage people into the town and to support local business,town centre manager from the Waiuku Business and Development Association, Sharlene Druyven says “it also helps minimise the amount of call outs and incidents from domestic firework displays and provides a safe, professional display for our community to enjoy.”

Each year the organisers work hard to introduce new and exciting market attractions as well as entertainment and amusement for the family. “We always ask our pyrotechnics’ crew to make each display bigger and better than the year before and provide a visual feast for the crowd to enjoy,” Sharlene says.

In fact, the event has grown so much since the previous year that they have had to increase facilities at the venue and will be providing a shuttle service from Kitchener Road for those who need assistance.

While Waiuku has, historically, been a smaller heritage town, with a range of beautifully restored older buildings such as Hartmann House, which dates back to 1886 and now operates as a local craft studio, Pollock Cottage, which dates back to 1890, the Waiuku Jail, which was built in 1865 and The Creamery as well as New Zealand’s longest continuously-licensed pub - the Kentish Hotel. The Waiuku Museum proudly displays colonial-era memorabilia, Māori artifacts, antique sailing boats and historic photographs. A heritage trail around town points out further sites of historic interest in Waiuku including Wesley Methodist Church, which was built in 1883 and where visitors to the town can get a panoramic view across Waiuku and the waterfront reserve.

Thanks to its location near the water, closeness to the city and a variety of other factors, Waiuku is quickly becoming a hot spot for people who want to live near to Auckland but don’t want to pay the exorbitant prices for rent or home ownership. For Auckland-based property developer, Adam Hampson, the decision to build in Waiuku was simple. “I had some friends that had relocated to Waiuku and I went to check it out and saw it was leafy, green and close to the water like where I lived. I could see the appeal and bought a block of land close to the golf course.”

As Waiuku is part of the unitary plan, Adam was able to subdivide the property and put houses on the land, “It was great because I was able to use local tradespeople, wherever possible, who were keen to work hard and lived close by, so they were reliable.”

Thanks to the project, Adam says he has gone on to encounter local first-home buyers as well as quite a few people coming down from Auckland. “I grew up in a country town myself and have really enjoyed the past year getting to know people in the region. Even all the staff at the local hardware shops know me now and are really friendly.”

Sharlene agrees that the community is a friendly and vibrant place to be where people make great things happen. “From these fantastic town events and zero-waste initiatives, to the local attractions and unique arts and crafts on offer.”

For a great night out visit Rugby Park on King Street on Saturday November 10 and check out the Blast to the Past event, which begins at 6pm. The fireworks will go for 15 minutes and begin at 8:30pm, once the skies begin to darken.

“We have amazing sponsors for Blast to the Past again this year, with our major sponsor Sam Wulff of Waiuku Business Park, Waiuku New World and the Franklin Local Board coming to the party. And, we just couldn’t provide these events without the fantastic volunteers from the local community. This event has become renown across Franklin and South Auckland as the only large professional public fireworks display currently to celebrate Guy Fawkes,” says Sharlene.

Those wanting to attend the event are asked to donate a gold coin, to support the continuation of the event and parking is available at Waiuku Business Park, off Kitchener Road, with limited parking available at the venue. The rain save date for this event is Sunday 11th November.

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