Hawkes Bay Today. Saturday October 7, 2006

Birthday Duck Pawa may have to take wing

As Waipawa’s famous yellow duck, Pawa, shakes the dust off his wings to headline another year’s Waipawa Spring Festival, his future remains in doubt.

The 400kg concrete duck, which has been in storage since its former perch High Street was revamped and widened in 2004, is celebrating his 10th birthday homeless – again.

Last year, Chamber of Commerce Chairman Stephen Jenkinson and 369 residents petitioned the council to allow the town’s unofficial mascot to be resurrected in the High Street carpark.

However the council preferred somewhere less visible – namely Madge Hunter Park, a riverside site where the annual spring festival duck races are held.

There has since been something of a Mexican standoff over the duck, voted New Zealand’s ‘most offensive ornament’ by Radio Pacific listeners.

“We offered to put it down by the river, but they weren’t keen because they were concerned about the vandalism and no one seeing it.” CHB Mayor Tim Gilbertson said.

Although communication lines remained open, he understood the organization was now investigating options on private property. In the meantime, the duck was on public display in the main street on the back of a truck to coincide with Waipawa Festival day.

“I think it was great in its day, but its day has passed and that’s being polite,” he said.

“It’s a bit of fun and has certainly cemented its place in Waipawa’s history as a controversial and lively bit of art.”

He suggested that the Chamber commissioned artist, Jan Gosling, who built the duck nine years ago, to create another sculpture that “better reflects the 21st century”.

Mr Jenkinson had not heard about Mr Gilbertson’s proposal but said that Mrs Gosling was a “very talented sculptor”.

He maintained Madge Hunter Park was too isolated and not the appropriate place for Waipawa’s “icon”.

He suggested the duck be included in an upgrade of Nelly Jull Park in 2010.

The Waipawa Spring Festival, featuring 500 plastic ducks racing down the Waipawa River, will be held in the park from 10am today