31 March 2017

Keen walkers can enjoy even more of Onekawa Te Mawhai Regional Park thanks to the generosity of an Eastern Bay of Plenty couple.

In 2016 Judy Lewis and Ross Pierson, whose land adjoins the 26.8ha park, offered to sell a 9.4ha portion of their property to Bay of Plenty Regional Council. The regional council approved this proposal in September 2016 and the purchase was completed in January.

New tracks will be built in keeping with Ross and Judy’s vision that the land would be incorporated into the park and allow for the development of further walks in the park. Currently there is a single walking track through the park, which allows for a loop walk returning via the beach.

“A new walking track loop will allow visitors to make full use of the whole park area and from which there will be spectacular bush, wetland and coastal views,” says regional council land management officer Tim Senior. “We hope the track will be developed over the coming year.”

The regional council manages the park in conjunction with Ōpōtiki District Council and the Upokorehe Hapū. Both these partners have expressed enthusiasm for the extension to the park on the grounds that it will provide further recreational and cultural learning opportunities.

“As far as our community outcomes are concerned, the addition of further coastal walking opportunities, for which there is considerable demand in the district, would help bring more visitors to Ōpōtiki,” says Ōpōtiki district councillor Lyn Riesterer. “We are keen to support any initiatives that increase the attractiveness of Opotiki for our visitors. This also impacts positively on our overall economic development.

“The regional park has grown by increments because forward-thinking people felt it was the right thing to do and could see the bigger picture that will benefit so many generations to come,” she says.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council prioritises securing land where the features on that land are unique and help define the special character of the Bay of Plenty, or where land is under threat. “The purchase prevents the possible subdivision of the parcel, which contains two possible house sites adjacent to the current park boundary. Houses on these would detract considerably from the aesthetic value of the park,” Tim says.

“The land also contains a healthy wetland. Having this wetland under permanent protection would be a significant benefit in itself. We appreciate Ross and Judy’s generosity in offering this extra land for the increased enjoyment of the park by locals and visitors and look forward to having them as our neighbours in this area.”

Onekawa Te Mawhai Regional Park, on the headland between the Ohiwa Harbour and Bryans Beach, was opened by the Upokorehe hapu and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in 2010. It is valued for its rich Maori cultural history, significant archaeological features and views to Kōhi Point, across Ohiwa Harbour, towards East Cape and, on a clear day, to Mt Maunganui and Maungapōhatu. It’s well worth a visit. The main entrance is near Ōhiwa Holiday Park and is signposted from SH2.