Issue 10 June 2007
Greetings to everyone.
It has been a busy time since our last newsletter. Progress has been steady in a variety of projects.
After 8+ years, the efforts and vision of Waihi Walkways is becoming apparent within our district.
JOHN VINSON, our Treasurer since the beginning of Waihi Walkways, has hung up his calculator, or rather his computing and accounting activities. Having assisted not only Waihi Walkways but numerous other community organisations, John decided it was time to reduce his commitments. John's contribution to Waihi Walkways has been reliable and invaluable, and we will be honouring his contribution at our Annual General Meeting on 12 July. Please watch the newspaper for notice of meeting.
MILL STREAM WALKWAY
Frequented by locals and visitors alike, this walkway between Baker and Clarke Streets continues to be well used and enjoyed. The recent Echo Walking Festival agenda included Mill Stream Walkway this year and a hardy group braved the threat of rain to walk up the route and listen to the stories associated with some of the heritage features en route. There was no rain - an enjoyable outing.
Adjacent to the walk is the "paddock" up to the Scout Hall, and Scouts, Cubs and Keas all joined with community volunteers last season to plant our first round of indigenous trees. Much clearance of invasive weed species has taken place – barberry, elaeagnus, perriwinkle, honeysuckle, blackberry.
Recently we organised for the area to be mulched. With equipment from Waihi Hire, and expertise from Malcolm Mathers we saw a transformation take place.
Gradually, this neglected area will become habitat for native birds and wildlife, and we envisage a lovely place to ramble. Predation control is the next initiative we wish to organise in consultation with landowners and neighbours.
Cubs, Scouts and Keas will have more opportunities to participate, and to fulfil their conservation badge requirements, as the area is prepared for more plantings this season.
During the process of clearing the area we discovered another piece of the jigsaw puzzle of Waihi's mining heritage - the footings of a power pylon, and the steel structure from the top of the pylon. We were aware we had two other sites of pylons on our Mill Stream Walkway. These remnants hint at the story of power coming to Waihi from the first hydro dam on the Waikato River, at Hora Hora, across the Matamata plains, over the Kaimais via Waitawheta to Victoria Battery Site, Waikino and then up to Waihi and to the Transformer House on the side of Pukewa (at the Martha Mine site).
The Transformer House was demolished recently as the Pumphouse was being prepared for removal.
MILL STREAM WALKWAY EXTENSION
The proposed extension from Mill Stream Walkway upstream to Speak’s Quarry is underway with a tentative route defined and some clearance of vegetation completed.
Newmont Waihi Gold have undertaken to contribute by removing some of the weed species around their property. The house was the Mine Manager's home when Waihi Mill was processing Martha Mine ore at its site just across the stream on Union Hill.
This extension is primarily on Department of Conservation land and will bring more of Waihi’s heritage features into view. One of the first stages will be to clear the streambed which is currently choked with debris and fallen logs. A recent survey of the stream revealed the problem of congestion to be of mammoth proportions.
Progressively the huge stands of elaeagnus will be removed, plus invasive weed species including Japanese Walnut - Juglans ailantifolia. This particular species has spread rapidly along the banks of the Ohinemuri River and some of its tributaries, and has become a significant environmental pest. It is listed on Environment Waikato's Unwanted Weeds List and is banned from propagation or sale, as is Elaeagnus x reflexa.
VOLUNTEERS & COMMUNITY SUPPORT
The support from the Waihi community is most appreciated at Waihi Walkways. We have received donations of native trees from a variety of people, and it is always a delight to see those trees established.
During the planting season we organise small groups from time to time to plant seedlings - if you would like to contribute to this effort, please contact our co-ordinator.
Roger Pearce has been helping our projects by attending to some minor and some major repairs and maintenance.
Getting the swing back in a gate can be a simple job, but getting a kissing gate re-built and re-sited is another. Thank you Roger for your perseverance and precision with this and other maintenance issues.
OHINEMURI REGIONAL HISTORY JOURNAL
A project is underway to make all the stories contained in the 50 Journals, plus the images, available on the web. They are currently hosted at www.ohinemuri.org.nz.
The Journals were started in 1964, a combined effort of the Paeroa & District Historical Society and the Waihi Historical Society. Every year (until 1970) two journals were produced. Since 1971 one per year has been compiled and made available.
The journals have a wonderful variety of articles and stories, poems and images – all depicting some aspect of life in the 1800's and 1900's through to the present. Settlement, farming, goldrush and decline, and a small amount of early Maori life is to be found.
You may wish to use this link http://www.ohinemuri.org.nz/journal/n.01.htm and click on the Presidential Foreword of Journal 1 which gives an excellent introduction to the concept of the Journals.
The site is approximately 50% complete. You can browse the article headings, or search for particular information. Each journal will have an images page.
OHINEMURI RIVER HISTORIC WALKWAY
Considerable progress has taken place with this walkway proposal. A Steering Group has been meeting over the last year, with representatives from Hauraki District Council, Department of Conservation, Newmont Waihi Gold, Environment Waikato, Waihi Walkways, and facilitated by Vision Waihi Trust CEO Eddie Morrow. We hope farmer and iwi representatives will soon be able to join us. There have been two on-the-ground visits to parts of the proposed route by Hauraki District Mayor and several Councillors and staff, Waikato Conservator, other Department of Conservation Staff and archaeologist, Newmont Waihi Gold, Vision Waihi Trust and Waihi Walkways representatives. The enthusiasm and support for this concept is substantial.
Feasibility is yet to be established although we expect the Engineers Concept Design will clarify some issues. Consultation with the landowners is ongoing and there are some substantive issues yet to be addressed and resolved. Consultation with Iwi has begun, and NZ Historic Places Trust has indicated a strong interest in the archaeological values of the features along the proposed route.
This is an important project with the potential to add considerable value to the community and tourism amenities of the district.
It features the heritage route of the ore tramway from Martha Mine to Victoria Battery, Waikino and the water race from the Masonry Dam to the Battery – water being the main source of power for the Battery for many years. We hope that, in time, the heritage features can be accessed, and the stories told of this remarkable portion of engineering and industrial heritage.
POWER CARRIER AND TRAILER
Early in 2007 we purchased a second hand power carrier and a new Kea tipping trailer. This equipment will add considerable capability to our activities and allow our volunteers to participate in a greater range of activities.
The power carrier had been modified specifically to facilitate walkway construction with an extended bin – for carrying metal onto the tracks, plus hydraulics to ease the process of distributing the load. As a proprietary piece of equipment, this power carrier can traverse difficult terrain and provide access to more remote areas. It will also carry plants onto sites, or rubbish and debris out.
Training will be given to volunteers who wish to participate in using this machine, and with an appropriate health and safety regime in place we believe this equipment will serve many uses for track creation and maintenance and environmental enhancement over many years.
The trailer will allow us to freight in plants, and the occasional load of track metal as needed, besides the transportation of the power carrier.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The AGM of Waihi District Walkways Inc will be held in 12 July 2007. Details will be advertised in the Public Notices of "The Leader".
Representatives from the Department of Conservation, Tauranga Office, have agreed to give a presentation on the department's vision and plans throughout this area. Recently, an internal shuffle in DoC conservancies has meant that Thames Office, DoC, will now attend to projects north of Waihi.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting, and some light refreshments will be provided.
Coffey's Walk stretches from Coffey's Creek swimming hole (at the end of Wellington Street) up the river to the bottom of Rosemont Road and Riverbank Terrace walkway.
A regime of spraying has enabled most of the blackberry to be eliminated, and more plants were established on the river bank last season near the swimming hole.
Our neighbours in that area are mowing part of the riverbank, and together with Waihi Walkways initiatives, the area is being transformed from a wasteland to a lovely scenic spot.
THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS
Once again, thanks to our volunteers, walkway neighbours, contractors and members who offer encouragement, make donations, and express enthusiasm for the walkways and the environmental and heritage initiatives.
Thanks also to
* Valder Ohinemuri Charitable Trust
* Waihi Ward, Hauraki District Council
* Trust Waikato
* Jim Say Foundation
* DoC (Conservation Grant)
* Lottery Grants Board – Environment & Heritage
* BOC Gases, Where There's Water
* NZ Community Trust, Gaming Charity
Chairperson: Beryl George, Ph: 863 3107
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