The following article, written by Lyn Hann, has been published in the July 2020 edition of Rotary Down Under, a Rotary magazine for Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.
Te Mata Park Guard Duty
Located in Havelock North, Hawkes Bay, Te Mata Peak is an area of natural beauty rising 399m above sea level and is steeped in Maori legend. (Google -The Sleeping Giant)
Now a park it was gifted in perpetuity to the community in 1927 and managed by a small group of volunteer trustees, with help from local councils and the community. The 99-hectare park is a recreational, historical, and cultural treasure, enjoyed by nearly 1 million people annually, the Park offers visitors stunning and varied scenery, unique topography, geology, flora and fauna and a wide range of recreational activities. (Te Mata Park website)
The park contains areas of pines which have become old and dangerous for park users and the Trust decided to remove them and replant with natives. Havelock North Rotary Club was asked if we would like to provide Guards as a fundraising project, to help keep people out of the areas being logged. Perfect timing, as we were looking for a replacement project for our declining annual Country to Coast fun run.
So we started a roster that had duty times of some 2 hours each for 3 guard positions from 6 am-3.30 pm 5 days a week.
The locals use the park for walking, jogging and biking however some trails had to be closed. Although not everyone was happy, local park users eventually accepted that they had to change routines. Covid-19 lockdown certainly stopped the logging and the need for guard duties, but not some of the local users of the park it would seem.
However, a lessening of lockdown restrictions had us back on the job at two positions only and at the time of writing this will continue for another couple of weeks.
A great fundraiser for the club and although somewhat challenging organising a roster for club members, Friends of Rotary and Te Mata Park Trust helpers it was made easier by emails and spreadsheet. It has been a good community project and fundraiser that had about 50 plus people getting out and doing a few hours each advising park users of where they cannot go.
Although a couple of park users need ‘guidance’, most people have been polite and happy, one regular even bringing a magazine along to give to the person on duty to while away the time… nice.
A great project fundraiser in beautiful surrounds, what could be better!