2020 AGM - Chair's Report
It has been a phenomenal year for the Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust, and it gives me great pleasure to present this Annual Report for the financial year ending 30 June, 2020. Our vision to develop The Whale Trail to be a world-class shared pathway from Picton to Kaikōura has taken significant steps towards becoming a reality. We are now closer than ever to achieving this goal. The investigations completed to date confirm that the trail would be an exceptional recreational experience and iconic visitor attraction.
MKTT : Ian McNabb, Louise Edwards, Margaret Cooney, Sank McFarlane, Katherine Hume-Pike (EO), Nigel Muir, Lynette Buurman, Cynthia Stoks, Luke van Velthooven, John Forrest
Importantly, it would connect the communities along our east coast in a new and relevant way, providing new jobs and wide-ranging opportunities that we anticipate will revitalise the communities and businesses along the route. The Trust has achieved several significant milestones over the period. The first part of the year was focused on undertaking a technical study which assessed the feasibility of the trail, examined the route and provided accurate costs to construct and operate the trail. This critical work would not have been possible without the support of the Provincial Growth Fund and the Rātā Foundation who co-funded the technical study. The Rātā Foundation has been a long-time supporter of The Whale Trail, making a $600,000 grant back in 2017, from its 2016 Earthquake Recovery Fund. Although we were confident that the trail was a sound proposition, completing this technical study and business case confirmed that the project was feasible and a worthwhile investment. The business case identified 42 jobs during construction, 137 jobs once established and a net present value of $27 million. On top of these economic benefits it is anticipated that there will be 50,000 local users of the trail each year and an estimated $18m of health benefits. My experience is that the concept of the trail captures peoples’ attention. Most people are quick to understand its potential to be an exceptional visitor experience that can be developed sympathetically within our unique environment. We were delighted to be part of the expo that showcased Kaikōura to Prince Charles in November 2019. The Prince, a keen walker himself, was particularly supportive of the trail blending in with the natural surroundings.
A hallmark of the project has been the ongoing support of our key strategic partners: the Marlborough District Council; the Kaikōura District Council; Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency; Rātā Foundation; and KiwiRail.
I have little doubt that without the total support of these strategic partners we would have failed in our bid to create this world class trail.
In December 2019 KiwiRail provided approval in principle for the entire trail and we are now working with their teams to complete technical design for the trail for the sections within the rail corridor. We believe that the Whale Trail and the Coastal Pacific passenger rail service offers a unique proposition amongst the family of cycle trails in New Zealand.
Ultimately the real success of the trail will be determined by how well it meets the requirements and aspirations of our stakeholders. Six community engagement sessions were undertaken during September, October, and November of 2019 in Picton, Blenheim, Seddon, Ward, Kekerengu and Kaikōura. 97% of these community voices were in support of the trail. We were also hosted throughout the year by several special interest groups.
In October 2019 we presented to Te Waka a Māui Iwi Chairs Forum in Ngāti Kuia offices in Nelson. We welcomed this opportunity to discuss with the mana whenua of Te Waka a Māui how we can collaborate on issues and opportunities associated with the trail. The Trust’s aim is to meaningfully engage with the respective Iwi to ensure that their cultural, spiritual, and historical associations and aspirations are respected and the opportunities for partnership explored.
In September we held a hui in Kaikoura with representatives of Te Runanga o Kaikōura, Department of Conservation and the Kaikōura District Council. This meeting highlighted how much work lies ahead to ensure solid and lasting partnerships are created. We are fully committed to developing these partnerships as we journey forward.
Following the completion of our technical study in February 2020 we applied to the Provincial Growth Fund for construction based on a project budget of $19.5 million.
In May 2020 as COVID grasped the country and the rest of the world, the government sought to identify projects that could provide the necessary boost to the economy.
With $2.0m of local funding confirmed from the Marlborough District Council and support from all our strategic partners we submitted The Whale Trail to what is now the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. On 24 July of this year construction funding of $18.0m for the Whale Trail was announced in Blenheim.
The year ahead of us is indeed exciting as we transition from concept to construction.
None of these achievements would be possible without our foundation funders; Marlborough District Council, Kaikōura District Council, Provincial Growth Fund and Rata Foundation: as well as our sponsors; Sport Tasman, WK Advisors and Accountants, Bell Gully, APL, Ayson Survey and Gilbert Family Trust. The trustees and community are extremely grateful for all the financial and professional support received.
We are extremely fortunate to have such a talented and committed team of trustees. Margaret Cooney, Louise Edwards, John Forrest, Sank McFarlane, Ian McNabb, Nigel Muir, and Cynthia Stoks all continue in their roles as founding trustees. I would like to acknowledge Kauahi Ngapora who retired from the trust in May 2020 and thank him for his service as Deputy Chair. We welcome Lynette Buurman as the new trustee representing Kaikōura District Council.
I would like to thank our Executive Officer, Katherine Hume Pike, who’s dedication, passion and commitment to the cause has enabled us to achieve all that we have to date. I have little doubt we would not be where we are if it were not for Katherine’s work ethic and professional ability.
Finally, beyond our trustees there has been one more volunteer who has been critical to the project. Ian Bond, thank you for all your hard work, credibility, and expertise that you bring to this worthy project, you are an integral part of our success.
Luke van Velthooven
Chair of Board of Trustees
Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust
2020 Audited Accounts: