The Hauraki Rail Trail is part of Ngā Haerenga -The New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Ride network, linking the communities of Kaiaua, Thames, Paeroa, Waihi, TeAroha, and Matamata. The Trail is managed on behalf of the community by the Hauraki Rail Trail Charitable Trust, which is governed by a Board consisting of representatives from the local councils and iwi.
WSP have been involved from the initial planning phases of the trail through to the most recent development strategy for the trail. The Trust commissioned WSP to develop an Enhancement Strategy to guide future development of the Trail.
The goal of the strategy was to increase the attractiveness of the Trail to visitors and improve local use of the Trail,while at the same time releasing the economic and social potential of the community. The aim was to provide opportunities for active engagement to inform decision making, and to consult the wider community about the strategy and seek their input.
CLIENT BRIEF/PROJECT CHALLENGES
To support the Strategy and ensure it considered and responded to the needs and aspirations of iwi, stakeholders, and the community, a comprehensive programme of engagement was developed jointly by WSP and the Trust.
The team used three primary methods to seek input from iwi, stakeholders, and the community. Iwi with an interest in the Trail were invited to participate in a series of online hui via the Zoom video-conferencing facility. A total of seven hui wereheld with eight separate iwi.
The hui were informal and the kōrero covered a wide range of issues, including potential places of concern and/or opportunity for iwi, integration of Te Ao Māori (including use of stories and cultural knowledge where appropriate), and methods to make the Trail more engaging and appealing for iwi and whānau. Six virtual workshops with groups of key stakeholders and partners were held via Zoom, with the project team facilitating discussion and guiding participants through a series of semi-structured topics and questions.
The team made use of the available tools, including chat, polls, and virtual breakout “rooms”, which gave instant results and could then drive further discussion of key points.
The team also used a separate chat to communicate with each other in the background, highlighting issues to explore further or picking up on points which the lead facilitator might have missed.
During engagement with iwi, stakeholders, and the community, several clear themes emerged. A broad vision statement was developed to guide the framework, reflects the history and future of the Trail, the communities it connects, and the environment in which it sits -A world class trail that welcomes all people to our places / lands / stories.
To achieve this vision, the Strategy outlined sets out Guiding Design Principlesto ensure that future enhancement work helps to define the character and identity of the Trail. These are:
- Integration of Mātauranga Māori and Te Aranga design principles.
- Enhance ecological value and environmental sustainability.
- Promote interpretive and educational programmes.
- Promote connectivity and accessibility.
- Ensure high quality user experience and aesthetics.
- Recognise the rich cultural heritage of the area.
- Attract economic investment and financial sustainability.
- Ensure a holistic design approach for wayfinding and legibility.
- Create a functional, safe and low maintenance network.
The comprehensive engagement undertaken prior to development of the Strategy meant that there was a clear line of sight between the feedback received, and the design principles developed to guide future development of the Trail. The principles were used to identify, map, and categorise enhancement opportunities and locations throughout the Trail, building on the spatial survey responses.
LIST OF PRIMARY SERVICES
- Landscape design