Pupils from Papakura Normal School who made up one of the youngest ever deputations to their local board are getting action on their safety concerns.
Kaige Chase, Gabriel Moaate-Minhinnick, Olivia Kim, Genesis Blakelock and Angelina Tuiono took their concerns over an open drain that runs along Walters Road to the board after incidents involving children walking to and from their school.
Board chair Brent Catchpole took those issues to Auckland Transport, detailing the case of a young boy who fell into the drain, his friend also falling in while trying to rescue him.
Both six-year-olds were rescued by a passing motorist.
Board members and the area’s councillors praised the youngsters for getting involved and now Auckland Transport is addressing safety issues in the area.
"Walters Road used to be out in the country so pedestrian safety was not such an issue, but now it’s surrounded by homes," Catchpole says.
"The changes as Papakura has grown have seen traffic increase dramatically and happily AT and Healthy Waters were aware of the issues and are already taking action."
The ditches in the area, once home to the Papakura Army Base, were originally designed as fortifications, and for more than half a century the camp acted as the rural-urban boundary, and there was limited pedestrian or cycle traffic.
Papakura Normal opened in 1958 but children came from the south and west of the school, so, apart from local trips and Ardmore, traffic remained light. But with residential development and the addition of Bruce Pulman Park, traffic volumes have grown.
Auckland Transport has had onsite meetings and a portion of footpath and a signalised pedestrian crossing are being installed outside Kauri Flats School.
Healthy Waters Awakeri Wetlands will take stormwater from the development away from Walters Road’s drains, which will enable the open channels to be piped.
"There are issues to address, but it’s great that we can tell these young people they have been heard and that something is happening," Catchpole says.
AT and Healthy Waters are continuing their investigations and are working together on timing and staging.
"It’s a complex operation but AT and Healthy Water’s should be congratulated for their willingness to engage with the school and others in the area."