Auckland trail leaders debate the future
By Dot Dalziel, Regional Field Advisor
A sunny autumn morning brought a promising start to the second Auckland Trail Leaders workshop. Matakana Coast Trails Trust and the Walking Access Commission hosted the workshop at Plume Vineyard in Matakana.
Ngāti Manuhiri Kaumātua Ringi Brown opened the day, welcoming visitors and setting the scene.
Guest speaker Kaye Parker from the Queenstown Trails Trust illustrated the Trust's journey from an audacious dream to today’s 120km network of trails. Kaye was candid about the things that didn’t go so well, and the rollercoaster ride of funding.
But her story is proof that well-organised communities can build and maintain trails, in partnership with private landowners and with support from central and local government.
After Kaye spoke, people at the workshop identified issues affecting Auckland trails:
- They need to involve iwi early – before drawing lines on the map. Iwi and community groups share outcomes; but mana whenua organisations have limited resources.
- Non-vehicle transport has been a low funding priority. But this is changing with a new policy push for accessibility and safety.
- Funding focuses on urban Auckland, but most potential trails are on the urban edge or in rural areas.
- Implementing greenways is slow. The region is growing faster than its connections.
- Flexible guidelines for building infrastructure exist. These let communities create and maintain paths and trails. We need the Council and Auckland Transport to understand and support that flexibility.
- The recent Environment Court decision of Matakana Coast Trail Trust vs API and Auckland Council was a strong sign that we need connectivity in new subdivisions.
- When we advocate for connectivity we need to look wider than local supporters of walking and riding. We should reconnect to mana whenua traditions and history, wildlife corridors, community river restoration activities and more.
During the day several participants said we need to coordinate across the region so that they don’t repeat the same conversation with council and Auckland Transport in different areas of Auckland... and so that we learn faster from our mistakes. They want different trail solutions in the different locations, but a single, smooth path through (or around) the bureaucracy.
Some of the participants are establishing a regional trail leaders forum to provide these benefits to the trail building community.
Ngā mihi o te Makariri – warm winter greetings to all who participated in the Matakana meet-up. Particular thanks to the panellists who shared valuable insights and to the Matakana Coast Trail Trust for partnering with the Walking Access Commission to put on the event.
NOTE: Our next regional networking event is in September this year and will likely be in the Clevedon area.