History of the Okiato to Russell Walkway
The concept of the walkway was germinated in 2003 by Roger Dane who was then a valued member of the BOI Rotary Club and resident at Okiato Point. The Club adopted this loop walking track as its Special Centenary project for celebrating 100 years since Rotary commenced in 1909 and supported the concept enthusiastically.
Brett King (Surveyor) did a lot of in-depth research and concept route planning and the concept was put before the Far North District Council (FNDC) Community Board and subsequently the Council who agreed to give their approval and a small team got stuck into getting the project moving.
Then Roger Dane, Brett King and Roger Toplis did a lot of work behind the scenes because there was a lot of public relations and personal contact to be made regarding the track route and the finances.
Finally a route for stage 1 was confirmed and physical work commenced with the construction of the first boardwalk/bridge at Pipiroa Bay in 2004. This was the beginning of 7 years of regular working bees for a relatively small but enthusiastic team of BOI Rotarians and locals from the Russell side.
The FNDC soon realised that the project was “happening” and Council and Council staff became enthusiastic supporters and were able to arrange both physical and financial assistance periodically over the next few years. Mayor Yvonne Sharp opened Stage 1 in 2005.
Under the competent guidance of Roger Dane, the Rotary Club realised that a Trust was the answer to further substantial fundraising and the BOI Walkways Trust was formed resulting in successful funding applications to Lotteries Grants Board, ASB Trust and NZ Walking Access Commission.
Work continued involving some contracted work but MOSTLY voluntary labour. Resource Consents and DOC approvals were all required and all of these involved testing issues that were finally overcome.
Stages 1 and 2 were mainly bush walks … the work included identifying routes, clearing, cutting steps and some stairways. Stage 3 included more bush walks plus 500m of boardwalk on the south side of Orongo Bay, then some 100m of small boardwalks through the DOC controlled Hirst Reserve. Doc staff came to the party and improved the track through the Hirst Reserve section. Stage 4 incorporates and a further 510m of boardwalk across the mangrove wetlands of Orongo Bay plus some 100m of boardwalk at Uruti Road, some bush walks and approximately 1.5km of roadside footpath constructed under contract.
Apart from the three large funders mentioned above, ASB Trust, Lotteries Grants Board and the NZ Walking Access Commission, there has been a lot of public support and donations, plus significant financial assistance from the FNDC , Enterprise Russell and from the BOI Rotary Club. With the exception of relatively minor consulting fees and Resource Consent costs, the funds raised all went solely towards construction.