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Dr Gordon Hosking wins Outdoor Access Champion Award
Dr Gordon Hosking received an Outdoor Access Champion Award in Mangawhai this week. The award recognises his significant and lasting contribution to public access to the outdoors in the Mangawhai region.
Dr Gordon Hosking is a leader in the Mangawhai Tracks Charitable Trust. He started volunteering with the Mangawhai Walking Weekend and was inspired to help open and develop new tracks across the area.
He works alongside and with local iwi, community members, the Department of Conservation and Council. He has defended the public’s right of access successfully in the Environment Court. He has also built a team of 70 volunteers who develop and maintain tracks around Mangawhai.
One of his projects, the creation of the Tanehaka Tracks network, received Commission funding and this network is used by large numbers of people. Through the network’s creation, improved access into the bush has allowed for more trapping. This has enabled the Department of Conservation to successfully reintroduce a kiwi population on the land.
The awards are an annual event organised by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa. Chief Executive | Tumuaki Ric Cullinane says the awards celebrate people and community groups around the country who are developing trails and making it easier for people to experience the outdoors.
Tom Smith, who nominated Dr Hosking for the award, said in small districts and rural parts of the country the community must do things itself if it wants things to happen.
"So we realised as a community quite a while ago that, if we wanted to improve our lot, we have to get off our backsides and do things for ourselves."
This community in Mangawhai has a strong rich heritage of fixing things and augmenting things and achieving things.
"It was actually a Project Crimson project that brought Gordon to Mangawhai. He liked what he saw and he and Tineke found a property opportunity and came and joined us. And we’re very glad they did," says Tom Smith.
"As you’ve seen, his whole career and his academic expertise is about forests. And he’s very much an outdoors-man, so he’s a guy who leads from the front. He’s very happy with a saw or a chainsaw in his hand and he’s got a vision about what’s possible. He’s a keen ecologist. So we are not just blitzing through a property, we are looking at opportunities and taking care of the environment along the way. So it's a good partnership."
"He’s just recognised as a community leader. He doesn’t push himself forward. He’s not a loudmouth at community meetings, beating down the councillors. He’s an effective person who works creatively for his community. Very much admired."
"Gordon and the trackies are very well-regarded in this community. And you know we get support community-wide. It isn’t a battle because people recognise it is a major benefit to us all."
"We’ve tended to be pretty much self-funding. We’ve had this walking weekend going for 20 years. The proceeds from that have been applied to the tracks trust. So we have not had to do an awful lot of fundraising. Volunteers have donated all the labour and people have donated materials and so on. We have not had to go outside our circle very much to get these projects going. Walking Access Commission has been one of the very few exterior organisations that we have invited to participate," says Tom.