South Taranaki Star
Community rallies to rebuild walkway
A coastal community is rallying to rebuild South Taranaki’s longest walkway, after recent storms washed away about 200 metres of their handiwork.
Opunake Loop Trail Trust chairman Ian Armstrong said extropical Cyclone Dovi on February 13 and a big storm the previous weekend, which caused widespread flooding and road closures around the coast, had destroyed large sections along the more than 8km-long walkway that circumnavigates Opunake.
‘‘It’s pretty major, everyone has been feeling quite disheartened.
‘‘We have lost about 50m of trail near the Waiaua Bridge, and 100m by the Otahi Bridge on the other end, and there are three other pockets where the track has washed away, including near Te Namu Pa.’’
But the community has rallied to fix the storm damage, Armstrong said.
Much of the trail was built using farm tractors and equipment by volunteers, including Armstrong, but heavier machinery is needed to transport the rocks that will be needed to rebuild the washed away parts, he said.
The trust has applied to the Toi Foundation for $60,000, and is hopeful of finding out if this had been successful within a few weeks.
‘‘I went out and asked for letters of support from the Taranaki iwi, the kura and all the schools, the Women’s Institute and the Lions Clubs,’’ he said.
‘‘I didn’t just get letters of support, they all went a bit further, they wrote what a great asset it was, how much they use it, it was really good stuff, I got a bit emotional.’’
He had asked all the contractors in the area with machinery capable of doing the job to help out, and rocks were being donated as well.
‘‘They’ve all agreed to do the work for us for the cost of labour and diesel. It all adds up to $100,000 worth of generosity, nobody I have asked has said no.’’
Armstrong is hopeful the repair work will be completed before winter.
Waka Kotahi had offered to help rebuild the track by the Waiaua Bridge, as its contractors would soon be working to stabilise the bridge’s abutments where the floods had eroded the riverbank.
Regional maintenance and operations manager Jaclyn Hankin said the agency was still finalising a plan for bank reinstatement and protection works to prevent future erosion upstream of, and beneath, the bridge.
This work will include ensuring there is sufficient space beneath the bridge for the cycleway to be reinstated by the Loop trust.
On Friday, students from Opunake High School were at work on the walkway weeding around some of the native trees planted by other students two years ago, while further round, others were helping repair flood damage by the secret garden.
Principal Andrea HooperCarr said the school pitches in to help the Loop Trail Trust as one of the ways they can ‘pay it forward’ for all the community support the school receives.