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Neil Cooper, Stratford District Council receive Walking Access Awards
Stratford District Council and employee Neil Cooper have received Walking Access Awards for their significant contributions to improving walking access across a network of picturesque tracks and pathways in the Taranaki region.
New Zealand Walking Access Commission chief executive Mark Neeson said the awards recognised contributions made by the council and council property manager Mr Cooper across the district, including in Whangamomona where the council had moved to retain and enhance access following significant land sales.
“Thanks to their persistence, many more locals and outsiders will be able to enjoy the area's magnificent scenery. Aside from the enhanced value for the residents, this will give the local tourism industry a boost too.”
The council was also notable for its recent efforts to legally secure access for future generations through the use of easements rather than less formal access arrangements that could be lost when land changed ownership. The recent formal gazetting of Cardiff Centennial Walkway and sections of the Carrington Walkway were good examples of this, Mr Neeson said.
A gazetted walkway is a walkway that is legally protected by a registered easement and notified in the New Zealand Gazette, giving landholders and the walkway the legal protections and status offered by the Walking Access Act 2008.
“The Stratford District Council and Mr Cooper have been working closely with local landowners to make these walkways enduring. The awards recognise their commitment to the values we uphold, which are all about giving people more and better opportunities to experience New Zealand's natural heritage,” Mr Neeson said.
Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke said the council saw “great economic potential” in the development of recreational areas.
“Council is actively working with the local community to further develop recreation opportunities, including walking, mountain biking and horse trekking.”
The awards were presented at a Stratford District Council meeting on Tuesday by George Williamson, the New Zealand Walking Access Commission's operations advisor.
The Walking Access Awards recognise those who have made significant and lasting contributions to public access to the outdoors in New Zealand, whether through securing new legal access, championing public rights of access, trail building, or contributing to understanding of access rights and responsibilities.
Photo caption: (from left to right) Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke, New Zealand Walking Access Commission Operations Advisor George Williamson, Neil Cooper.