Hawkes Bay Today, July, 2005

Donít duck Pawa and the glory.

Waipawa is a nice little town, but it lost part of its character when Pawa, the concrete duck, disappeared from the main street.

It was a regular landmark on the drive from Napier or Hastings to Palmerston North or Wellington, along with the sculpture in memory of the young crash victims on the Takapau Plain, and the windmills near the Manawatu Gorge.

But for almost a year the yellow monster has been in the backyard of a secondhand shop in the town.

It is understandable there are divisions in the community ñ especially as it was voted ìthe most offensive ornament in New Zealand by a radio station.

It is a similar situation in another of our smaller centres ñ Dannevirke, where there are two distinctive camps when the issue of a proposed Viking statue is discussed.

But is there really a need for this sort of small-town cringe? The duck may not be the Eiffel tower, or the Great Wall of China, but it gives Waipawa a touch of character. It says the townsfolk are grown-up enough to poke fun at themselves, in the same way Ohakune does with a giant carrot.

The Chamber of Commerce, which owns Pawa, has written to the Central Hawkes Bay District Council asking that the duck be put back in the High Street carpark, but further back than previously.

But the artist who created the duck, Jan Gosling, said it needs to be proud and visible, otherwise it may as well not be there at all.

And she is right. There is no point having a 400kg concrete duck if you hide it under a bushel. When the full council considers the matter next month let us hope that it doesnít suffer from small-town cringe, and does the right thing by Pawa.