Access stalwarts honoured with Walking Access Champion Awards
Te Araroa Trust founder Geoff Chapple and advisor Hunter Donaldson were recently received Walking Access Champion Awards for their outstanding contributions to walking access.
The awards recognise those who have made significant contributions to public access to the outdoors in New Zealand through securing new legal access, championing public rights of access, trail building, or contributing to understanding of access rights and responsibilities.
“The awards exist to remind people of the importance of walking access. Today’s recipients have worked tirelessly over many years to open up new opportunities for people to discover all that New Zealand has to offer,” said New Zealand Walking Access Commission chair John Forbes.
Mr Chapple, who is from Auckland, began to campaign for Te Araroa - a continuous 3,000 km walking track from Cape Reinga to Bluff – more than 20 years ago. The first trail from Kerikeri to Waitangi, in Northland, was opened in 1995.
“Mr Chapple’s award recognises his leadership, perseverance, innovation and courage in taking on and achieving a hugely ambitious vision,” Mr Forbes said.
Achieving his vision meant Mr Chapple had to negotiate access arrangements with landholders and communities, as well as local and central government.
“Through the creation of regional committees, he and the Trust managed to demonstrate that access is something that can be managed both collaboratively and fairly.”
Mr Forbes also praised the dedication of Mr Donaldson, a Waikanae resident.
“Mr Donaldson has contributed an enormous amount of time, energy and knowledge – often behind the scenes - to developing the policy and legislative frameworks within which the Commission operates. This included the Walking Access Act 2008, which established the Commission.”
He was also the Commission’s first manager – a nine month role that was pivotal in determining how the Commission and the board might function, he said.
The awards for Mr Chapple and Mr Donaldson were presented at a function in Wellington on 17 February.
Other recent Walking Access Champion Award recipients have included Lynne Alexander, Ann Irving, Peter Chandler, Andrew Lonie, Neil Cooper, Hilton Ward, Whangarei District Council and Sport Bay of Plenty.