Puhoi’s riverside walkway project has scored a major win at the second annual Mayoral Conservation Awards in Auckland.
The Puhoi Pioneers Memorial Park walkway won the Restoration category at the awards, which were held in The Maritime Room on Prince’s Wharf on September 19. Mayor Phil Goff presented the $2000 award to Puhoi Community Co-chair Dustyn O’Leary and her mother, Sorrel O’Leary, both of whom have been at the forefront of steering the walkway project in recent years.
The restoration category is designed to recognise work done to restore, connect or create ecosystems, manage native species and control pests. Volunteers have spent the past six to eight years clearing, fencing and planting the walkway, which runs north along the Puhoi River from the sportsground for more than a kilometre.
Dustyn says it was a big surprise to win the prize, which will go towards buying more plants for next planting season.
“There were four finalists in each category and when they did a brief summary of each finalist, I thought there’s no way we’re going to get it – but we did!” she says. “A big thanks to everyone who has ever picked up a spade, strung a wire or pulled a weed for this project – such a big community effort has gone into the development of this walkway over the years and it’s great for it to be officially recognised.”
Once the riverside walkway is completed, there are plans to extend a track up the exterior boundary of the Pioneers Memorial Park to connect with Te Araroa, New Zealand’s national trail, where it runs along the ridge above Puhoi.