Rail trail ex­ten­sion in­ter­est shown

Piako Post - - FRONT PAGE - LAWRENCE GULLERY

Busi­nesses are weigh­ing up the ben­e­fits of be­ing part of the planned Hau­raki Rail Trail ex­ten­sion from Te Aroha to Mata­mata.

About 60 peo­ple turned out to hear suc­cess sto­ries from neigh­bour­ing trail op­er­a­tors at a meet­ing held at the Mata­mata Civic Cen­tre.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako mayor Jan Barnes said peo­ple in the ac­com­mo­da­tion, equine and farm­ing in­dus­tries were among those who at­tended, to hear the rail trail’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Diane Drum­mond speak about the po­ten­tial busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

A short pre­sen­ta­tion from Hamil­ton Waikato Tourism chief ex­ec­u­tive Ja­son Dawson was also made.

‘‘We had some peo­ple al­ready on the ground, on the rail trail as part of the Paeroa i-Site, in­volved in bike hire, for ex­am­ple, come along too.

‘‘Diane spoke about en­cour­ag­ing busi­nesses to think about their point of dif­fer­ence, what ser­vices could they of­fer that would be dif­fer­ent or an ad­van­tage to those us­ing the trail.

‘‘Ja­son have some re­ally good fig­ures on what the ad­van­tages could be for the district too.’’

Barnes said she was pleased peo­ple from all three of the district’s towns, Mata­mata, Mor­rinsville and Te Aroha came along to hear the speak­ers.

‘‘Near Mor­rinsville, you have the Te Miro bike park which is look­ing at do­ing some new things around moun­tain bik­ing and then there’s the Herd of Cows? street art project as well which is in­ter­ested.

‘‘So even though the ex­ten­sion is from Te Aroha or Mata­mata, it’s not just about those two towns, it’s about the whole district and how it can ben­e­fit.’’

The rail trail ex­ten­sion was awarded $3.4 mil­lion from Tourism Min­is­ter Kelvin Davis ear­lier this year.

It was the sec­ond ma­jor in­vest­ment to be made through the Nga¯ Haerenga, the New Zealand Cy­cle Trail En­hance­ment and Ex­ten­sion Fund.

TERESA RAMSEY/FAIR­FAX NZ

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