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Promise Made... Promise Delivered

Simon Profile

The perfect start to Simon Maxwell’s day is driving along Lakes Boulevard and seeing the hustle and bustle of The Lakes community – kids walking or bussing to school, dogs being walked, people exercising, beginning their commutes to work, or meeting at Maude for an early coffee. It signals a community that’s working, living, playing - and thriving.  

For Maxwell, as Manager of The Lakes since 2003, it triggers memories of the promises made by The Lakes original developers Grasshopper Properties, some sixteen years ago when the concept of a thriving Lakes community was first put to paper. 

Since the very beginning, he notes that the vision was to build a diverse and bustling community with a strong sense of belonging and pride. “Right from the outset, Grasshopper’s plans were to turn the 254ha land in Pyes Pa into a diverse and inclusive suburb.” 

“To maintain variety, we ensured a range of house designs and sizes including single and two-storeyed homes, as well as villas and duplexes, across a range of section sizes, 200sqm to 1000sqm. Each house design and roading interface had to adhere to certain quality standards as well, so that we could develop a community feel as we grew.”

Having set the tone in the early stages of the development, Grasshopper was unable to continue with the development (post the Global Financial Crisis) and this saw new owners Carrus take up the reins from 2012. Maxwell is quick to credit Paul and Scott Adams for their commitment to the original Lakes vision, saying that their reputation for quality and sustainability was integral to the development’s latter and subsequent success.

“We were also fortunate to have many of our quality local building companies understand our vision and choose to build their showhomes at The Lakes. At one stage we had over twenty showhomes dotted around the development and these served to magnetise new home owners to our doorstop as they sought inspiration and lifestyle ideas.”

Reflecting on his own part, Maxwell looks up at the wall map of The Lakes and considers what the last sixteen years have delivered.

“We have over 3000 people here now (with numbers forecast to rise to 5000 on completion); they’re both young and old, and from all parts of New Zealand and from places overseas. There’s a mix of first homes to forever homes, with households including singles, couples, families, extended families, and retirees living here or in the Bridgewater Lifestyle Village.”


When asked to pinpoint what he believes has made The Lakes so successful, Maxwell points to nine key promises made at the outset:

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01 The Lakes was to be a place to live, work and play


“The proximity to arterial roads and the toll road to the CBD and Mount were important, so too local opportunities for work, recreation and lifestyle” says Maxwell. More recently, the proximity of the new Tauranga Crossing mall has meant that residents can walk to the cinema or cafes and restaurants, and easily access shops and supermarkets. 
 


 
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02 Lakes


The vision from the start was that lakes would form the key theme and aesthetic of the development, with a total of seven lakes now featuring.

“The inspiration for the main lake’s design centred around the land form - it was originally two dairy farms and there was a large natural wet area, so we decided to enhance that and make it the feature -  creating Lake Taurikura which is nearly one km long and three metres deep. Dividing the main lake is a stunning artistic 80m bridge, built in two linking curves.”


 
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03 Cycleways and walkways


The promise of a lengthy network of cycleways and walkways to provide access to different areas, and to deliver health and wellbeing outcomes for residents and families.

“These trails have proven to be great for recreation and socialising, again building that sense of connectivity within the community with people interacting whether walking to school, walking the dog, running, cycling or out and about with friends and family.” 


 
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04 Native Wildlife Corridor


We wanted to create a wildlife corridor aimed at bringing nature and birdlife into people’s everyday lives. The Lakes is a showcase of native and exotic trees and shrubs planted to attract tui and other native birds, plus there are large tracts of green space and landscaping for leisure and recreational pursuits. It is, says Maxwell, one of the most densely planted suburb in Tauranga with more than a million shrubs and trees established during the course of the development. In addition, a row of 80 gum trees from the original farm were preserved by the developers to ensure the white-faced herons retained their roosting home there. 


 
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05 Honouring the Land's Heritage


Respecting the mana of the land has also been important to Maxwell and the developers, with Peri Kohu of Ngai Tamarawaho providing counsel and insight since the development started in 2003. “Peri has been a wonderful friend to The Lakes. He gifted us names for the reserves, the main Lake Taurikura which comes from the legend of Princess Taurikura who once lived in these valleys, and also many of our street names which honour the Māori history of this area including those warriors who lost their lives in the battle of Te Ranga.” 

 


 
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06 Unique Playgrounds


“We actually put in playgrounds before the housing and residents arrived. We wanted to signal to the community the type of neighbourhood environment we wanted to create.”

Maxwell notes that each playground has a different flavour or play focus, and they’ve obviously hit the mark, with people travelling from across Tauranga to try out the novelty of the interactive water playground or to take on the flying fox that’s adjacent to The Lakes Shopping Village.


 
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07 Schools and Quality Education


“We knew that our location provided a wide range of education options and this has been rounded out by the recent opening of Taumata Primary School at The Lakes. The school buses also transport older kids off to the local intermediate and secondary schools. We also have two privately-owned preschools that have been established at The Lakes, so all levels of education are covered here or nearby.”


 
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08 Local Shopping


“The quintessential neighbourhood shopping village on Caslani Lane forms the heart of our community, with its Four Square, Maude café
& restaurant, doctors, physio, pharmacy, Turkish takeaways and fish and chip shop, creating a destination in itself. And then, of course, there are even more shopping options in Tauranga Crossing, which was always part of the dream of The Lakes.”


 
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09 Community Engagement


“We have helped foster community by hosting and helping to set up events like the Garden & Arts Festival, Christmas in the Park, Easter Egg Hunts and Family Fun Days for locals and visitors to enjoy. We’ve also contributed to local fundraisers like the new shadesail for the playground. As hoped, the community now thrives all on its own – there’s an active community Facebook group which discusses local events and helps locate lost pets, plus there’s initiatives like a shared fruit and vegetable stand and Christmas light competitions.”


 


The Lakes was always going to be “something special” says Maxwell. “We made a promise to leave the land in a better place than we found it, and we are all very proud to have achieved this”.

“Our decision making was made easier thanks to the “Rocking Chair” test introduced to us by Grasshopper Properties’ Director Graeme Lee,” says Maxwell. “Whenever we had a major decision to make, Graeme challenged us to project ourselves to a time and place where we’d be sitting on a verandah in a rocking chair and reflecting on The Lakes. Quite simply, he wanted us to be proud of The Lakes and our involvement with it.”

Sixteen years on, and now under the stewardship and leadership of a committed Carrus team, Maxwell feels confident that everyone involved with The Lakes has passed the Rocking Chair test, and that the promises made have well and truly been delivered.


 

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