Queen Elizabeth Park Cycleway on track

Blessing gets cycleway underway

The beginning of construction on the new Queen Elizabeth Park cycleway has been marked by a ceremony at the Poplar Road entrance to the cycleway in Raumati South.

Kaumatua Rakauoteora Te Maipi (Koro Don) led the karakia and blessing accompanied by Mahutonga Blenkinsop and Anne-Maree Ellison from Atiawa ki Whakarongotai Charitable Trust and officials from Greater Wellington Regional Council.

“We really appreciated the opportunity to work with Ngāti Toa Rangātira, Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai and Ngāti Haumia and express our shared relationship with the park in this special way,” says GWRC parks manager Amanda Cox. “We acknowledge their support for the cycleway and look forward to a real celebration early next year when the new trail is officially opened.”

Name gives cycleway identity

Many thanks to the three iwi for gifting the name Te Ara o Whareroa for the cycleway. Te Ara can be interpreted literally as way, path, lane, passageway, track, course or route. Whareroa can mean long house. The complete name could mean “pathway in the vicinity of the long house”, which in turn complements the pa site at the mouth of the Whareroa Stream.

Given the rich history of Maori settlement in the region the name Te Ara o Whareroa cycleway fits really well. Maori have lived throughout the park for hundreds of years and there were major settlements at Wainui and Whareroa up until the mid-1800s. Although the land was covered in forest, the numerous waterways were deep enough for canoes to be paddled from Paekākāariki to Waikanae. Hundreds of years later we’re using Te Ara a Whareroa cycleway to re-establish some of those links, though through pedalling not paddling.

More thumbs up

Two more approvals have moved the construction of Te Ara o Whareroa cycleway closer to reality. Kāpiti Coast District Council has approved the project’s Outline Plan and Heritage New Zealand has granted us archaeological authority to proceed.

An Outline Plan is required to ensure a territorial authority (TA) has no significant objections to the environmental impact of an initiative where the site already has a designated purpose in the District Plan. If it does the TA can suggest conditions provided they don’t frustrate the reasonable implementation of the project. We were able to answer several questions for KCDC, and it’s great that we’ve got the official green light to start work that will particularly benefit local people.

Heritage New Zealand’s archaeological authority will ensure protection of historically and culturally significant remains and artefacts. It contains a number of conditions such as the role of monitors, application of tikanga and procedures to be followed if human remains are found.

Te Ara a Whararoa cycleway project consultant archaeologist Andy Dodds describes his role as monitoring, sampling, analysing, describing and reporting any finds made during earthworks.

“There’s a high likelihood of making finds during work on the dunes. Most likely we’ll come across shell middens, which provide information on settlement in the area. If more significant finds are made, such as evidence of human burial or human remains, legislative provisions and cultural protocols coma into the picture. But they needn’t normally delay construction,” says Andy.

Construction update

Things are happening, and quickly. In recent weeks around 7,000 cubic metres of fill has been delivered to the park, to help smooth the cycleway’s contours and keep it largely within the easiest cycling grade. All the fencing has now been done, although livestock are still in the northern section helping keep the grass down.

Construction proper will start soon, once the tender process is complete. Tenders for the full earthworks and surfacing of the cycleway are currently being advertised through the Government Electronic Tender Service website. They closed on 29 May and a decision is likely to be made on a contractor in early June.