$300,000 painted poles light up revamped Queenstown CBD

by Lauren Pattemore - Jun 15, 2023

The prime minister is in town next week for the official opening of Queenstown's reimagined CBD, which includes 42 painted poles for lighting that cost more than $300,000.

The poles on Rees Street are coloured green, while those on intersecting Beach Street are gold, a nod to the precious metals that helped lure some of the early settlers to the district.

Both sets of poles are decorated with an artistic design that includes either the words "whero" (the word for gold in te reo Māori), or "pounamu".

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has confirmed the total cost of supplying and installing the poles, which double as street lighting, was $302,000.

Fifty pounamu tiles inlaid in Rees Street cost $25,000.

Meanwhile it says the 100 bronze inlays that line Beach Street, to complement the gold poles, cost $12,497 to supply and install.

In recent weeks Crux revealed the 50 greenstone inlays that are paired with Rees Street's green poles cost $25,000. Crux reporting on the pounamu pavers reached a record audience and attracted comment from across New Zealand.

In total, more than $37,000 has been spent on decorative tiles on the two streets.

"For context, the total budget for the town centre street upgrades project was $66 million, primarily focused on the complete renewal of underground services, the creation of mixed-use pedestrian and vehicle spaces, and the creation of a pedestrian boulevard along Brecon Street," a spokesperson for the council said in response to questions from Crux about the expenditure.

The upgrades have been joint funded, with $35 million coming from the government's shovel ready projects pool, and the rest, paid for by Queenstown Lakes District Council ratepayers.

The council said in a press release in March the streets were themed to reflect the area’s history of precious stone gathering - specifically pounamu for Kāi Tahu, and gold, for later settlers.

The gold-coloured poles have previously attracted scrutiny from one Crux reader, as the word "whero" has various translations in addition to that which the poles seek to convey.

One of 42 embellished street lights, which cost a total $302,000 to supply and install.

The word can also mean red and bum, or backside.

Some central apartment residents also voiced early concerns the poles were taller than anticipated, blocking prime views and potentially spilling light into windows, but the council confirmed they were built to standard.

Meanwhile, new stormwater infrastructure installed during the upgrades also came under fire after new drains along Rees and Shotover Streets appeared to fail in April, resulting in the flooding of multiple CBD businesses.

Kathmandu and Quicksilver businesses were shut for multiple days as a result of the water flowing away from drains and into shops.

The flooding caused some stock damage. 

Investigations are still underway into what caused the flooding.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will be coming to Queenstown next week to check out the completed works first-hand, invited for the official opening of the revamped town centre streets.

The celebratory event is scheduled for Friday, June 23, with Queenstown Lakes District mayor Glyn Lewers also set to attend.

Main image (Supplied/QLDC): Beach Street's golden poles.

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