Harnessing the power of working collaboratively, six Napier Rotary clubs have turned a grand idea on paper into reality, with the creation of more than 50km of pathways and cycleways around the Hawkes Bay city.
In 2002, then Councillor Barbara Arnott had the vision to provide Napier with a comprehensive system of safe pathways circumnavigating the city and she challenged the six clubs – Napier, Ahuriri, Ahuriri Sunrise, Taradale, Greenmeadows and the now defunct Napier West – to get the project off the ground following an initial rejection by the City Council.
Inaugural Napier Rotary Pathways Trust member Sue Page says that after much discussion among Rotarians, the Trust was formed with each club having a representative along with two community members.
“This was the first time all six clubs had worked together on a project of this scale and it provided a very successful collaborative template,” Sue says.
Partnerships were formed with the City Council, Regional Council, various central Government departments and Sports Hawkes Bay to open up funding options and garner community support for the concept.
“It was decided to try and start the project with a smaller section of pathway that was finite and highly visible,” Sue says. “The section chosen was a 1.6km link between Westshore and Bayview (an area of high traffic) and this was finished in November 2003.
“From day one, everyone was amazed at the number of people using the pathway and seeing that the concept had been turned into a reality meant a positive push for the extension of the project,” Sue says.
In the 20 years that have followed the initial section being laid, almost 50km more of pathways have been completed. Sue says more than $2.2 million has been contributed by the funding bodies and local residents to see the project completed.
Following the devastating Cyclone Gabrielle in March, which destroyed large swathes of the Hawkes Bay, Sue says the majority of concrete pathways remain intact and largely undamaged but areas where limestone paths were on stopbanks have been destroyed and will need remediation work in the coming months.
Now, hundreds of thousands of users enjoy the Rotary pathways, which are all highly signposted with Rotary’s involvement. Improvements to the trail, including the installation of shelters and plantings, have been ongoing over the years also.
“This was an amazing project to be involved with and it has truly put Rotary on the map in Napier,” Sue says.