2021 AGM Chair's Report
It has been an outstanding year for the Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust, and it gives me great pleasure to present this Annual Report for the financial year ending 30th June 2021.
I am incredibly proud of what our team and partners have been able to achieve over the past year. In October last year funding to construct The Whale Trail ® was confirmed. Our funding agreement requires us to undertake a phased development of the trail, at pace. We are working hard to deliver on these commitments whilst ensuring there is good project control, private land holders are respected and there is the opportunity for meaningful input from our community. Continued...
For stage one of the trail development between Picton to Seddon we have largely completed the permission phase which means significant construction can get underway. Detailed design and land access agreements have been completed in conjunction with the landowners and regulatory authorities. Design is nearing completion with resource consents lodged and, in most cases, these are now approved. This progress enabled three subsections of trail to be put out for tender in late September.
There are 13 bridges between Picton and Seddon, two are significant structures in the context of a walking cycle trail. We have worked with closely Waka Kotahi on the design and procurement process for a clip-on bridge over the Wairau River and as I write this, we are in the final stages of awarding a construction contract. This is a very significant milestone for the project, and we are very pleased to have reached this point. As a vital element of The Whale Trail, the clip-on will also dramatically improve safety for existing cyclists who currently use this route.
The other major bridge in this first stage of trail development is a cycle walkway to be constructed within the existing historical rail bridge formation over the Awatere River. Detailed design has been undertaken and we are well progressed with approvals from KiwiRail. We are very close to commencing procurement of what will be an iconic structure.
In terms of timeframes, our work programme is to complete the trail between Picton and Seddon including the bridges and supporting trail infrastructure by mid-2022. This is a tight programme and the COVID environment presents challenges with level changes, disruptions to supply chains and escalating costs. We recognise the anticipation and excitement around the development of this trail and will keep the community updated as we progress as quickly as possible.
Our goal remains steadfastly to deliver an exceptional world-class trail from Picton to Kaikōura. The trail can showcase our unique landscapes and connect locals and visitors with our communities. As the trail is developed there will be increased opportunities for new and existing businesses within the region. However, ensuring we tread lightly and sensitively as we progress is fundamental to our work. We are committed to construction and operating processes that ensure our precious environment and unique cultural heritage are protected. We are looking forward to continuing to work with local Iwi so they can share their history and stories along the trail and benefit from the possibilities the trail creates.
The initial focus of stage two is to work with Iwi to confirm what the trail may comprise. South of Seddon the Trust has been working closely with the Kaikōura Runanga to learn about significant sites between Seddon and Kaikōura, and the possibilities for a trail to Kaikōura, including investigating the inland alpine options between Waiau-Toa/Clarence River and Kaikōura. While this inland section is beyond our initial project scope it could be an exciting addition to the trail and bring further opportunities for the Kaikōura District.
Our small but very dedicated project team is supported by specialist consultants and focused on delivering a family friendly walking and cycling trail. Katherine Hume-Pike our Trust Executive Officer, engaged in early 2019, continues to manage land access, funding, and our relationship with strategic partners. We have added two team members this year. Vicki Nalder is a registered surveyor, an experienced project manager and is coordinating the consenting, approvals and construction contracts to build the trail. Anna Houkamau joined in February of this year and brings her broad experience on multifaceted projects to the team. Anna is focussing on forming collaborative partnerships and stakeholder communication. We continue to work with a specialist trail engineer Hamish Seaton. Hamish is Master Trail Builder who has vast experience in developing quality trails through varied terrain around New Zealand. The careful planning and attention to detail will ensure we deliver a high-quality trail that is a significant legacy project for our region.
A key to our success this year has been establishing critical partnerships. These relationships have been formalised in various contracts and Memorandums of Understanding consistent with a project of this scale. We work closely with the Marlborough District and Kaikoura Councils, KiwiRail and Waka Kotahi/ NZ Transport Agency. Our trustees and project team have formed constructive working relationship with these and other parties which have been vital to delivering to date and in the future.
I would also like to recognise our funders who saw the true potential of the trail and provided the requisite financial support. The grant from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund is managed by the Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit of Central Government now named Kānoa. This is supported by co-funding from the Marlborough District Council. We would like to thank the Rātā Foundation who have been a long-time supporter of The Whale Trail without whom we could not have progressed.
Special recognition needs to be given to our “Trail Hosts” – the landowners who have provided permission for the trail to be on their property. Without the generosity of these individuals and organisations we would not be embarking on this worthwhile endeavour. There are 15 private landowners between Picton and Seddon and more as the trail heads south. I would like to sincerely thank each one of you for the foresight and community spirit you have shown by supporting the development and ongoing operation of the trail.
The year has been shadowed with sadness. In May, our dear friend, Trustee and respected colleague Ian McNabb passed away. Ian was a hugely recognised leader in our community. He brought an incredible breadth of commercial experience, rigorous debate and a sound strategic perspective to our decision-making process. Ian’s involvement was highly valued by several of our partners including local iwi and he is deeply missed.
We are extremely fortunate to have a talented and committed team of trustees remaining. Margaret Cooney, Louise Edwards, John Forrest, Sank McFarlane, Nigel Muir, Cynthia Stoks and Lynette Buurman all contribute with professionalism, passion and commitment.
Finally, beyond our trustees there are many members of the community who have offered assistance. There is one volunteer who deserves particular recognition for an outstanding contribution in a critical area. 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.
Ngā mihi nui,
Luke van Velthooven
Chair of Board of Trustees
Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust