On the 14th of January 2021, the walkway has progressed quite fast thanks to the expertise of Southern Star Trails staff. Josh Knauf, local fencer can hardly keep up with the momentum ! He is shifting fences and installing gates for track maintenance. The front part of the walkway has been retired due to the presence of significant archaeological sites. A big thank you to Pongaroa Station for being extremely accommodating during the construction phase.
On Sunday the 3d of January 2020, the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group promoted the work done along the river at the Mahia market. The day was an absolute success with over 70 persons entering the tent to better understand what the group was about and learn more about the Whangawehi walkway.
On Saturday the 2d of January 2021, family, whanau and friends gathered to Nukutaurua road to attend Kathleen Mato’s tangi. Kathleen lead the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group right from the onset and had the vision of a fully restored Whangawehi catchment. Kathleen was a genuine Leader who worked tirelessly for the betterment of our environment. Kathleen rests in the family urupa under a beautiful Puhutukawa tree, a few hundreds meters from the sea she missed so much lately. Kathleen will be missed by us all. She leaves behind her an impressive legacy for us all to enjoy.
In December 2020, the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group was allocated further support via the Job for Nature Scheme with another $112,000. This second instalment follows an initial $120,000 received in August 2020 and will allow 8 locals to continue training and working on nature based projects in the Mahia District. A big thank you to the Million Meter team for their support.
On Thursday the 10th of December 2020, Kevin Jones, Archaeologist was on site to make sure the construction of the walkway was undertaken in accordance with the management plan approved by Heritage New Zealand. Kevin was happy with the work done so far .
Several culverts were brought onto the property to allow proper drainage in key areas. Our Contractors, Charlie and Scott from Southern Star Trial are progressing very fast and it is not easy to keep up with them.
A big thank you to Kevin for facilitating this work, our contractors including Josh Knauf for making himself available when needed. We have to cut open several fences as we progress along the river and it is much appreciated to have these fences put back up as soon as the digger has finished its work.
Thank you to Bevan Parker, Farm Manager on Pongaroa Station for being accommodating and allowing some fences to be shifted in order to save time and money.
On Monday the 7th of December 2020, Reta Pohe, local Minister, blessed the workers and the machineries that will be involved in the construction of the Te Aratia walkway. Reta shared with the ropu his connection with the river and his pleasure to be able to contribute his own skills to this fantastic community project. Reta placed the Walkway and its users under the protection of our Almighty God. A big thank you to Reta for making the time to support us.
The gathering was hosted under the protection of the newly built waharoa by EIT students and local carpenter Will Keruru. This structure will be the gateway for a 24 km loop that will take people from Whangawehi – to Kinikini , Mahia beach and back to Whangawehi. A connection with the Mahia Scenic Reserve will also be possible.
The blessing was followed by korero from Whangawehi volunteers, Founders Pera and Janice Edwards (Kaiuku Marae), Rae Te Nahu (Tuahuru Marae and Secretary of the Whangawehi Catchment) and Pat and Sue O’Brien (Chair of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group). We acknowledged the group’s Founder Kathleen Mato who recently passed away. Kathleen committed a good part of her later life to setting up and implementing a large scale conservation programme for the Whangawehi Catchment.
Kevin Jones (archaeologist) came to provide guidance and reinforce the need for contractors to follow the Accidental Discovery Protocol set out by Heritage New Zealand. The main archaeological site, a whare floor possibly dating from 1850 to 1890 has already been retired and fenced off. Kevin followed Jeff Carters from Southern Star Trails and Nic when they where marking the layout of the track. Kevin will intervene if any archaeological artefacts are uncovered.
Southern Star Trails’ owner Jeff Carters and his team will be working on the walkway all summer. It is expected to have the work completed by the end of February. During the construction phase, the public is not allowed on the track. A formal opening ceremony will take place in March 2021 to celebrate the end of the construction phase.