The Vision Of Coastlands – 50 Years On

It started with a vision in 1963 by one man to build a shopping mall in Kapiti, which was at the time, a set of small, sleepy seaside communities. Accountant Ray Spackman, known as ‘Mr Coastlands’, bought the land in 1963 where the mall now sits. After a visit to Australia to investigate their new shopping centres, Ray returned convinced that malls were the way of the future, even though there were none in New Zealand at the time. What followed was a five-year campaign with the support of eight other local visionaries to turn Coastlands Shopping Town into reality.

There were many obstacles, not least trying to convince the financial institutions of the time to invest in Paraparaumu.

“It’s hard to imagine now how much a leap of faith the whole venture was for what was basically a small group of local businessmen who believed ‘if we build it, they will come'”, said the late Bruce Mansell, who at the time worked for Ray Spackman’s accountancy firm, and succeeded him as Managing Director of Coastlands in 1987.

Paraparaumu, at the time, was a town of around 5000 people and the Coastlands’ site was an overgrown farm covered in pine trees and scrub.

As well as finding investors, the group had to battle local government, (which was then Hutt City Council), to get the sub-division approved.

Perseverance and faith in the Kapiti region eventually saw construction getting underway in April 1969. The mall opened on 6 November 1969 with 21 shops and 6180 m2 retail space. These pictures show what a completely different landscape Paraparaumu was then.

Ray Spackman’s faith in the region was deserved. Fast forward fifty years, and Coastlands Mall now has over 100 shops and covers an area of over 49,000m2 retail space.

When Coastlands opened, the Kapiti Observer said it was “the day the whole district has been waiting for”. It was a game changer for the Kapiti Coast which has been one of the fastest growing districts in the country since, now with a population of over 53,000.

The past fifty years have seen continued growth and development of the mall, and many firsts including being one of the first shopping centres to trade on Saturdays, making Coastlands a mecca for shoppers all over the Wellington region.

In 1982, a unique partnership was formed between Coastlands Shopping Town and the Ngahina Trust who each have a 50% stake in the land south of the Wharemauku Stream. This allowed for further development of Coastlands. Part of Coastland’s arrangement with the trust was that the land would never be sold, and the trust could regard it as their ancestral land forever, which is important to both parties. Buildings on the expanded site, named Ngahina Arcade, include PAK’nSAVE and The Warehouse.

$150 million investment in developments over 50 years, including Tariki House which opened in 2018, has firmly secured Coastlands as the centre of the Kapiti Coast. “At the heart of the Coastlands developments is the hope to create a space in the community where people can work, connect, shop and play while enjoying pleasant surroundings. It is something we continue to develop,” says Richard Mansell, Chief Executive, who followed in his father’s footsteps managing Coastlands, after his father’s death in January 2013.

Coastlands celebrates its 50th birthday on 6 November 2019.