The community celebrations recognising the first section opening of the Pureora Timber Trail, part of Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail, which were held over the weekend are the first step to see visitors travelling through ancient rain forests and across the ancestral homelands of several Central North Island hapū.
“It’s a brilliant example of innovative Māori asset holders and government working together to realise the economic potential of their lands,” said Māori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.
The government is contributing around $5.5 million to construct the Pureroa Timber Trail: $2.1 million through the New Zealand Cycle Trail and the remainder through the Department of Conservation (DOC).
A consortium of seven Māori land trusts and one Māori incorporation make up Kohia Ltd, who have been supported in their mahi by Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development.
DOC who manage the Trail have asked Kohia Ltd to manage aspects of the trail, located west of Lake Taupō, which analysts predict could attract up to 15,000 tourists every year.
Starting at Pureora in the north and ending at Ongarue in the south, travellers will cross New Zealand’s longest cycle trail suspension bridge over the Maungatukutuku Stream, pass by spectacular rock formations and travel deep into extensive native bush.
“This tourism enterprise could hold the potential of hundreds of new jobs and shows the benefits of iwi working together and alongside other local and national stakeholders to create sustainable, economic value in their communities,” said Dr Sharples.
The Pureora Timber Trail is expected to open on March 2013.