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Wenderholm celebratory sunrise breakfast

by 28 Mar 2015Coastal trail, Regional parks0 comments

Model of rolling span, closed

Up, Up and Out of the Way: A bird’s eye view of the area for the proposed Auckland Regional Parks 50th anniversary celebration venue, adjacent the southern abutment of the proposed Judge Arnold Turner Footbridge of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail; the 50th anniversary, legacy project. The footbridge would snake across the estuary at the extreme left of this image, well clear of the area normally navigated by craft of any size, or with masts; a rolling-lift span would faciliate the passage of craft taller than two meters. drone image Majorlook Productions

There were very good reasons for celebrating in 2016.

Thirty-first of March is the 50th anniversary of the purchase of Wenderholm Regional Park, meaning that the main celebratory event could justifiably been held on Tuesday.

But while there was a certain amount of interest in the unprecedented, £1 million regional park purchase, it wasn’t until Wenderholm was opened to the public the following summer that Aucklanders discovered just how magnificent an early Christmas present they’d received.

By insisting that parks staff had Wenderholm opened in December 1965, barely eight months after its purchase, Judge Arnold Turner ensured that many families that practiced that most Kiwiana of traditions, Christmas at the beach, were able to do so in this novel new location.

The period immediately before Christmas, however, is no time to crowd people’s calendars with an additional major celebration, such as is called for to mark the first 50 years of regional park purchases. Auckland Anniversary weekend 2016, on the other hand, is the natural and obvious date. Certainly, many Aucklanders traditionally dash one last time to their favourite places beyond the region, only to endure hours of motoring misery at the usual notorious pinch points when returning on the Monday afternoon. Regional park regulars, on the other hand, know they can avoid becoming embroiled in the tailbacks farther north, by enjoying Wenderholm and the other parks closer to home, and extend the pleasure of the summer’s last long weekend for a few extra balmy hours.

Auckland Anniversary just gone would also been an entirely legitimate time to celebrate the beginning of the coastal regional parks network. But with the decision to make that weekend the occasion to celebrate Auckland’s 150th, the regional parks’ 50th would have been considerably overshadowed. So this leaves Auckland Anniversary weekend 2016 as the time for Aucklanders to celebrate the 50th summer of their adored regional parks, specifically the Sunday—at least this is the strong, joint recommendation of Friends of Regional Parks and Mahurangi Action.

As for the form of the celebration, the aforementioned societies are planning a ‘people’s fundraiser’ for the Mahurangi Coastal Trail as the regional parks 50th anniversary, legacy project. The ‘15 November celebrity fundraiser’ will already have raised a compelling amount in cash and pledges, but at $500 per ticket, it will not exactly be a demonstration of grassroots support. The suggested venue, aside from Wenderholm being a given, is adjacent what is proposed to be the southern abutment of the Judge Arnold Turner Footbridge, near Schischka Homestead. It is a paddock area not in the heavy demand that areas near the beach will be that long weekend, and with high tide at 1.44 pm, canoeable and, for the non-squeamish in respect to the reasonably sandy bottom, entirely swimmable.

Focal point of the field day would be the rolling-lift section of the 264-metre-long footbridge, and the two adjacent sections. Having these components available for viewing will allow the public to judge for itself whether the proposed footbridge is an appropriate structure to be built at that point, upstream of the area routinely navigated by the few craft moored in the estuary. If public opinion proves to be overwhelmingly in favour of the Judge Arnold Turner Footbridge, the only potentially contentious component of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail concept will have been successfully canvassed, and at no risk, financial or political, to Auckland Council. The demonstration sections meantime, should Auckland Council ultimately reject the proposal, would be put to good use elsewhere.

Discussions as to an appropriate form for the regional parks 50th anniversary celebration have been underway now for more than two years. An early suggestion, by Friends of Maungawhau
founding chairman Kit Howden, was for the theme to be ‘the next fifty years’, and for the celebration, in part, to be a regional parks conference. So while fundraising will be an important, and fitting, part of the celebration, it is also envisaged that the gathering will include a panel discussion and workshops on various aspects of regional parks and community. Obvious topics, in addition to the Mahurangi Coastal Trail itself, will be those provoked by the coastal trail concept:

  • Linking regional parks by trails, including bridle trails
  • linking regional parks to public transport
  • linking regional parks to local communities and businesses
  • linking regional parks to Te Araroa, the national walkway.

This heavy emphasis on linking, of course, suggests that a refinement to the theme could well be ‘The next fifty years – linking the regional parks’.

It is envisaged that many of the members of the ‘Friends of’ individual parks that subscribe to the umbrella group Friends of Regional Parks will book sites in the adjacent camping ground, or in the area for certificated-self-contained campers, making anniversary weekend 2016, for those lucky few, a veritable friends of regional parks jamboree.

Meantime, despite there being overwhelming reasons for the Auckland Regional Parks 50th anniversary to be celebrated on 31 January 2016, it is also appropriate, at sunrise on Tuesday, to toast Judge Arnold Turner CMG and the dawn of the modern regional parks era he ushered in when he signed the purchase agreement for Wenderholm.

For those interested, and fortunate enough to be live handy to Wenderholm Regional Park, an informal sunrise (7.33 am) breakfast will be shared near the site of the proposed 2016 event. Hot drinks will be available thanks to the editor and publisher being booked into the self-contained camper area overnight, in a borrowed vehicle.

All friends of regional parks and the Mahurangi Coastal Trail are warmly invited.