Issue 15 April 2010
Folks – it is 10 years since Waihi District Walkways became incorporated – we think that is a good reason to celebrate!
DID YOU NOTICE???
We updated our logo to reflect the increased environmental care and rehabilitation we are involved in. As we research, design and create the walkways, the dire need for environmental restoration has become more apparent. The results of the work speak, or tweet, for themselves… the small birds, especially Piwakawaka (fantail), are becoming more abundant. It is a great joy.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Walking routes throughout the district are of course no recent event – no doubt Moa had their routes, and maybe the dinosaurs before that! Maori routes traversed the landscape for hundreds of years. When Samuel Marsden journeyed with his Maori hosts through the Karangahake Gorge and Waihi Plains in 1820 he wrote of his experiences in the district, describing the route, the landscape and the daily events.
Many routes throughout the district were created in the times of horse and foot travel, and public land roadways and river reserves were created for the community in perpetuity. Some of those old routes are used today by those who like to reconnect with the bush and birds, and savour our special natural landscapes.
WAIHI WALKWAYS IS CREATED
Late in 1998 a group of 10 Waihi people gathered together to explore the potential for a community organisation to gather and collate information on existing and potential walking routes, and to promote and create more walking routes to link the district. A comprehensive report on the potential routes; and the challenges, benefits, and estimated costings was compiled based on ground surveys and investigations.
Tessa Mackenzie facilitated the initial group process then became Chairperson when Waihi Walkways was incorporated on 17 July 2000.
"The shared passion and intention for development of freely accessible walking tracks, by those who shared the initial vision of a project that enhanced community wellbeing on many levels has been, and will continue to be realised. Many people have participated over time to drive the sustainability of Waihi's walkway development, however special acknowledgment must go to Eric, and to Ruth, for it is their tenacity that has ensured Waihi's walkways (and the historical narrative attached to them) becomes a taonga for future generations. Congratulations to all those who have been part of this living, growing, project's journey to reach this 10 year milestone."
THE FIRST WALKWAY
As Mill Stream Walkway was designed it became apparent that environmental rehabilitation was essential. This area of public (DoC) land contained domestic and industrial rubbish, horses were grazed, native plants were few and pest plants such as blackberry, honeysuckle and privet were abundant.
Eric Lens and Andrew Jenks were instrumental in the design and creation of this first walkway. Eric says: "We started out with this route thinking this was just rough public land, to be traversed from here to there. But this has been a special journey… our increased understanding of the fascinating history of the Mill Stream area, and its part in the mining story of Union Hill, has proven to be challenging and rewarding. We now understand much more about the heritage content and value of this area."
Interpretation of Mill Stream heritage is on our website; http://www.waihiwalkways.org.nz/heritage.htm
Dept of Conservation (the major landowner) then, and now, provide ongoing support and encouragement.
Mill Stream Walkway has become a walking delight.
Current chairperson, Carol Speir, says:"Mill Stream Walkway is a treat… ferns and bush, stream cascades, open grassed spaces to enjoy, and the exciting bamboo grove… this walk is a treasure for future generations."
Many volunteer skills, expertise, and hours have been contributed since the inception of Waihi Walkways.
The last 3 years, in particular, has seen a staunch and dedicated group of volunteers on one or more sites nearly every week. Planting, weeding, mowing, clearing, pest control, more weeding, mulching, pest plant control, and more – step by step the environment is benefiting from these efforts, and the walking experience is a delight as we make a positive impact. The job satisfaction is enormous, and we have fun!
We continue to pay attention to the health and wellbeing of the Society. Workshops, strategic reviews, planning, and volunteer appreciation are all part of this robust community group. We hope this Society will serve the Ohinemuri District for many years into the future.
In May 2008 we re-visited our Vision and Values and articulated our Values more clearly. We value:
Riverbank Terrace Walkway has evolved over time to a delightful riverside walk with a rural flavour, and is graced by stunning mature deciduous trees with lovely autumn colours.
The true left bank of the river was fenced off from stock and a riparian re-vegetation initiative undertaken. The H.E.L.P. team, with the aid of many volunteers and school children, planted appropriate native species. Today this bank is well vegetated; protecting the river and the river organisms through shading and stabilizing of the riverbank.
Coffey’s Walk is also developing into a peaceful walk. Passing by the old rail bridge piers provides an opportunity to reflect on the changes in the district over such a short space of time.
Silverton Walkway is in the development stages and will enable the Waihi community to view Waihi’s oldest surviving battery site, known first as the Martha, then the Silverton, then the Union Battery.
We have assembled, re-typed, scanned and uploaded the Ohinemuri Regional History Journals to the website www.ohinemuri.org.nz. Researching these journals for information, anecdotes, and stories of early European life in the district is now easy and rewarding. We continue to receive positive feedback.
Waihi Walkways continues to support the Union Hill predator control initiative of Wild About Waihi. We and the students at East School combine our efforts to give the small bird life a chance to breed and flourish.
Thanks to Andrew Jenks, Wild About Waihi for supplying all the bait stations and baits each year.
Reducing pest plants is a major initiative we engage in. The public land is often inundated with pest plants. And they are called pests for good reason! Not easily controlled or eliminated, these plants threaten to suffocate the trees, and prevent natural regeneration of native species.
CELEBRATE WITH US
On 9th May we are celebrating with a public walking event through our walkways. Starting at the netball courts carpark 10.00 am, we will have a gentle walk through via Mill Stream to Gilmour Reserve, and on to Coffey’s Creek Reserve. Join us if you can. You can leave the walk at any stage, but if you walk back with us there will be free kowhais available to take and plant in your neighbourhood.
CELEBRATION AT THE AGM
On 15th July we will hold our Annual General Meeting, and continue our theme of celebrating the progress made on creating walkways in the Ohinemuri District. We invite you to come and enjoy:-
Check out our website from time to time. We keep it updated, and there are always new articles in the Current Trends, and Press pages, all the newsletters are available. www.waihiwalkways.org.nz
Our website aims to share information especially relevant to other groups working toward environmental restoration, and/or honouring local heritage.
WALK THE WALKWAYS
We encourage everyone to take advantage of the walkways, for good health and well-being. Let’s use and enjoy the public land set aside for the community.
Chairperson: Carol Speir, Ph: 863 3279
Coordinator: Ruth Ordish, Ph: 863 8600
Address for correspondence: Waihi Walkways PO Box 241 Waihi
Waihi District Walkways Inc. PO Box 241 Waihi New Zealand
Send e- mail to: Waihi Walkways