LEADER Tuesday, December 11, 2001
Walkways step closer
by Ruth Ordish-Benner
In the not-too-distant future when you tell someone that you come from Waihi they may respond, "Waihi, isn't that the place with wonderful inter-connecting walkways which locals and visitors alike can use that take you through interesting historic sites, native flora and fauna, beautiful views and nice spots for a picnic?"
You can respond: "Yes, that's our town all right."
A happy, dedicated group, Waihi Walkways is working to achieve this welcome reputation - at a steady pace you might say.
Apart from the physical work of establishing the paths, time has been put into planning and gaining permission to use certain areas. Parts of the walkways involve the traditional "Queen's chain" along the Ohinemuri river-bank where the public has access of right, but other sections are being negotiated with adjacent landowners. Iwi consultation is also part of the mix. The walkways group is confident that the project will be seen as a huge asset to the district and worthy of support.
In fact, a wide range of supporters is emerging as the project matures.
Several walking paths are being developed simultaneously and at present the Heritage Track from Gilmour Lake to Clarke St - created by the local council as a millennium project - is hosting plenty of walking traffic. From there the proposed Scout Walkway is under way with considerable effort going into clearing and planting from the bottom of Clarke St (see photo at right).
The Riverbank Terrace Walkway has been fenced on the southern bank and the first riparian planting undertaken. As seen in the photo at left the young generation was very much involved due to HELP (Habitat Enhancement and Landcare Partnership) inviting local schools to share some of the fun in planting for the future.
Walkways has expressed its satisfaction that the community is involved in this way and looks forward to an ongoing relationship.
Looking back at the past, much interest has centred on the Waihi Dredging Plant site where tailings taken from the river were processed to remove the gold, between 1897 and 1910.
Four archaeologists, Rachel Darmody of the Historic Places Trust, Phillip Moore, Neville Ritchie and Caroline Phillips have now visited and all have recommended the enlargement of the reserve area. The council has declined to take advantage of this opportunity.
Walkways believes this reserve will arouse considerable tourist interest.
Waihi District Walkways Inc. PO Box 241 Waihi New Zealand
Send e- mail to: Waihi Walkways