History abounds in the village of Puhoi, giving visitors a welcoming, homely sense of place, even on the coldest days.
One of the first historical buildings on the way into town is the old convent schoolhouse. It’s home to the Bohemian Museum which is cared for by the Puhoi Historical Society. The museum houses a variety of artifacts from the early settlers. Logging tools, Bohemian dress, and a scale model of the town are poignant reminders of its ethnic origins. Part of the museum building is still used by a playgroup and it’s this omnipresent juxtaposition of the old and new, which is central to the community’s identity.
The lifestyle from its cultural roots in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) evokes free spirited unconventional artistry. That is evident in the eclectic mix of boutique businesses in the area – local cheeses, mustards and an organic distillery offer their wares alongside traditional arts and crafts.
The Puhoi Community Forum is running a series of workshops around the theme ‘Puhoi is a living neighbourhood’. This is aimed at getting more members of the community helping out and making positive change.
The workshops get the locals together and get to grips with the most poignant issues facing the community. This includes ecosystem support to create and implement a plan for native planting, and pest and weed control. They are also looking to upgrade the river park after the community forum got a grant from the Rodney Local Board.
There is a plan to improve pedestrian connectivity and redevelop the village centre. Connecting the main village to outlying developments with walkways is also a priority as they currently have inadequate footpaths for pedestrian safety.
Group co-chair Dustyn O’Leary says they would like funds to re-develop the village area to alleviate parking and congestion problems, particularly on weekends, when the village is inundated with day-trippers.
Puhoi will also be the most affected town on the planned Puhoi to Warkworth motorway expansion. The community forum hopes to get funding from the motorway construction consortium, with the preferred tender due to be announced later this month. Like most places in Rodney, Puhoi is experiencing growth and is bracing itself for continued expansion. It is listed as a heritage village and that affords it some protection from urban sprawl.
Maintaining the character and feel of the village has been a priority for the last 153 years and it looks like the locals will maintain that tradition.