Embolden parks chief by bussing in bridge supporters
The Mahurangi Coastal Trail has been paid a considerable compliment.
Friends of Regional Parks, in addition to making the coastal trail its flagship project, is making the concept the subject of its annual general meeting, on 29 June.
Amongst the speakers will be civil engineer Roger Williams, who’s rather better-known projects are the Beehive, and the Britomart, and locally perhaps the Hill Street roundabout concept that so impressed the Pūhoi–Warkworth motorway board of inquiry.
Roger’s work in Tāwharanui Regional Park, and not just the many structures he has designed, gained consents for, and constructed with the help of a loyal team volunteers, is legendary, but at the annual general meeting, of course, he will primarily be talking to his design for the Judge Arnold Turner Footbridge, complete with lifting span, that is the key component of the proposed Mahurangi Coastal Trail. A model of the rolling-lift span will be on display at the meeting, not least of all because of the importance of pre-empting any notion that the footbridge will curtail navigation upstream of that point in the Pūhoi River.
Another vital speaker invited is the passionate and successful bridle path network promoter, Vivien Dostine. Catering for horse riding was on Auckland Regional Council’s radar when it made its last regional parkland purchase, on the eve of its subsumption into Auckland Council. But rather than see the 407-hectare Peter Schischka farm as a place to park horse floats and ride around a little in, Vivien’s vibrant vision is of trails traversing the three contiguous parks—Mahurangi, Te Muri and Wenderholm—and their 900 hectares of parkland. (Eighty-five of these hectares, of course, being at Scotts Landing and on the Mahurangi Peninsula, are not immediately accessible from the main aggregation of regional parkland without water transport, although, in the 1800s, ardent dance-goers would swim their horses across the harbour, to attend dances at Pūhoi.) Vivien’s advocacy for riders’ access is strengthened by a keen historical perspective of two centuries of the horse in Aotearoa.
Initial promoters of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, Mahurangi Action, will be represented by its president, Temepara Morehu, and vice-president, Tessa Berger. Ancestors of Temepara were buried in the beautiful and poignant urupā at Te Muri, with its headstones recording the intermingled settler and Māori Mahurangi community. The realisation that anthropogenic global warming, this century, will require the disinterment and relocation of remains from what should have been their eternal beachside idyll is heart wrenching. A small consolation is that there are several locations within line of sight of the cemetery that are safely above the eventual Anthropocene sea level, some 80 metres above today’s. 20-year-old Tessa’s perspective, meantime, is informed by her family’s settler history, and the crucial intervention by local chief Te Hemara Tauhia, the non-canonised patron saint of Pūhoi’s Bohemian community. That both president and vice-president are fluent in te reo has Māori proved to be helpful in reassuring Auckland Council forums that not just consultation with, but the participation of, Māori is real and meaningful.
Perhaps the meeting’s most important speaker, provided he is able to attend, will be Richard Hollier, the regional parks manager. Mr Hollier has been invited to speak on the planned Auckland Regional Parks 50th anniversary celebrations, but it is hoped that, in addition, he will provide an update on progress with the Te Muri concept plan process.
Annual general meetings are typically not the most popular of pastimes, even for people strongly motivated for the causes of a particular incorporated society, and mindful of the need for at least a semblance of democracy. Accordingly, in the interests of making attendance on Monday 29 June more attractive to Mahurangi residents, a bus will be hired to bring a party from the Old Masonic Hall in Warkworth to Three Kings, and points in between. And provided that Temepara’s fingering hand is up to it, and somebody remembers the songbooks, the trip home…
A good turnout and high interest in, and palpable support for, the Mahurangi Coastal Trail as the Auckland Regional Parks 50th anniversary project could well embolden parks staff to help create this legacy.