An impression of what the Modellers Pond area could look like. Image: Canopy Landscape Architects.

Pondering Modellers Pond’s future


As debate continues to trudge on about the future of Tahunanui’s Modellers Pond, Kate Russell offers her insight into what the issues are and what needs to be solved.

Stagnated, drawn out, never-ending. These are all words that run through my mind when I think of the Modellers Pond.

Weeds and algae have firmly taken the place of sail boats in the iconic Tahunanui pond for more than two decades now – ever since the chemical weed killer copper sulphate was banned.

This makes it unusable for extended periods, and it requires regular manual cleaning at considerable cost.

It may be my most covered topic in my five years as a reporter at the Nelson Weekly. I even took a photo of daughter holding a stick covered in weeds in 2016 to highlight the problem (which I’m sure she’ll look back on with fondness).

Kate’s daughter Violet with a stick full of weeds at the Modellers Pond in 2016. Photo: Kate Russell.
Kate’s daughter Violet with
a stick full of weeds at the
Modellers Pond in 2016.
Photo: Kate Russell.

There is always going to be disagreement over its future – there is even disagreement over its name.

Modellers Pond, Tahunanui Pond, Tahunanui stormwater detention pond. Who knows?

The solutions to fix persistent algae problem have chopped and changed, with the associated price tag growing as fast as the weeds that plague it.

After the $220,000 Diatomix treatment trial failed to work last year, the Nelson City Council agreed to investigate the option of a full upgrade, which involved installing a concrete base – or any alternative option that iwi considered appropriate.

It was a solution that was originally put forward in 2017 but was cast-aside due to its $1.7 million price tag.

That’s why my ears pricked up last Thursday when Nelson City councillors voted 9-2 to scrap that plan in favour of filling it in and creating a park.

The report that was presented to council said that upon consultation with Tiakina, Ngati Toa, Ngati Tama and Te Ātiawa, only Ngati Toa supported the full upgrade.

Included in the new plan are picnic areas, benches, water fountains and barbeques as well as a native wetland fringe along the foreshore.

The trains will stay and there could be opportunity to add a small pond in the future.

It was also described by property, parks and facilities asset manager, Andrew Petheram, as “environmentally preferable”.

This proposal will now progress to preliminary design, and a report will come back to the committee on its completion.

I get that the pond holds great memories for many Nelsonians, and many are holding out for it to be restored back to how it was in its glory days.

I’m no pond expert, but hasn’t council spent too much time weighing up their options, trying to please everyone?

In the process of doing this, they’ve created an expensive burden that they just can’t seem to shake.

About a year ago, while taking yet another photo of the pond I met an elderly lady who told me she likes to walk her dog around the pond but is constantly slipping over on the overflow of scum.

Her words: “Council just needs to focus and get on with it”. I couldn’t agree with her more.