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THE Department of Conservation, Gisborne District Council and Opotiki District Council signed off the $1.74 million funding agreement to develop the Motu Trails Cycleway in the Opotiki-Motu-Matawai area.
This signals the start of a major investment in the East Cape region’s tourism development.
The funding covers both infrastructural works and resources for marketing the route. Part of it is already well formed but needs signage and light infrastructure for cyclists. New tracks will include a coastal dune track near Tirohanga, east of Opotiki, and an upgrade of the Pakihi Track between the Motu Coach Road and Opotiki.
The agreement was signed at an event in Opotiki on Wednesday attended by the Mayors and staff from both councils, the Department of Conservation and representatives of the Whakatohea Maori Trust Board. Over 100 hundred members of the public also attended.
Richard Balm, the national project manager for Nga Haerenga - the New Zealand Cycle Trail. Mr Balm signed the $1.74 million funding agreement on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism. He praised the enthusiasm of Opotiki and Gisborne District Council staff at initial meetings, which he said hade made a difference.
Motu Trails project manager Mike Houghton says that the event was an opportunity for the community to celebrate what is the largest-ever Government investment ever made in the Opotiki District.
“We really do have cause to celebrate,” he says. “This is a major project for our districts, not only in terms of the jobs that will be created during the construction phase, but for the potential it provides in terms of attracting a regular flow of high-value visitors here. On the back of that will be opportunities for establishing a range of new businesses and further utilising the services provided by those that already operate in our region. We’re all excited by the opportunities and this week’s signing ceremony is another major step forward in the development of the Motu Trails.”
Mayor Meng Foon said that he hoped that the Motu Trails would eventually be extended to link Matawai and Gisborne along Rere Falls and Eastwoodhill Arboretum. He invited Prime Minister John key to open the new trail, and suggested he might want to do this on a bamboo bike built and designed in Gisborne by Bikeys Bike Shop owner Freddie Salgado.