Work on the Waiuku Trails is officially underway after a ceremonial sod-turning event.
Franklin Local Board and Waiuku Trails Implementation Committee members joined the public and volunteers to watch board and committee chairs Angela Fulljames and Barry Gibbon turn the first soil on the project.
The board has committed $300,000 to the trails project but deputy chair Andy Baker says it would be pointless but for the hard work of volunteers who came together on Auckland Council’s first community-led project.
"We have a unique situation where the council has found a way to enable the community to implement a project of some scale and we are grateful to our colleagues for that.
"Waiuku’s Mudlarks need to be commended because we would not be able to see the water, let alone the other side, if not for them. People said removing the mangroves was a pipe dream, but without their commitment there would be no point in having a walkway."
Blessing the project, kaumatua George Flavell said he walked the area every day and was honoured to be involved in preserving a beautiful and relaxing space for future generations.
Board member Sharlene Druyven said Waiuku was a fabulous community and the desire to build the trails was reflected in the speed with which the project was advancing.
"Lions, Rotary, iwi, the Mudlarks, businesses, the yacht club, the list goes on. People have been so keen to be involved. This is all about the future and creating a wonderful amenity for the community."
That was reflected on the day, when Blue Scope Steel’s Glenbrook mill chief executive Gretta Stephens announced the company would provide the base course for the track.
“We are very much a part of this community, so we are delighted to be a small part in a project that is bringing so many in the area together.”
Committee chair Barry Gibbon welcomed the gesture.
"Every dollar we don’t spend on materials like the base course gets us another metre further towards our goal."
Board member Brendon Crompton says everyone involved can be proud of what has been achieved.
"I recall when we first met we had maps and markers out within 15 minutes charting the path, and we had a plan before the board inside four months."
Auckland Council project delivery head John Schermbrucker said the Waiuku community had been fabulous to deal with.
"As a community-led project, this is a first and Waiuku has set the bar pretty high."
Work will start at the Tamakae Reserve, and the development will also ensure the Awaroa portage is protected because of its significance to mana whenua, who also serve on the walkways committee.