The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs - launched a year ago to eliminate unemployment in the regions - has put Te Araroa into its strategic plan for 2001-2002.
As from April 2001, the 31 mayors on the Taskforce have agreed to support Te Araroa - one of many initiatives at a local level, and one of its 12 nation-wide priorities that are expected to generate jobs.
The decision to adopt the New Zealand-long trail came after Te Araroa’s CEO, Geoff Chapple, addressed the Taskforce’s March 29 forum at Manukau City.
Trail building created new jobs, Chapple said. Ongoing maintenance then provided more opportunities for work, but beyond that, local communities could expect to sustain employment by providing long-trail users with food and drink, accommodation, and, in places, guides.
Bed and breakfast establishments always increased on successful long trails - from 4 to 40 for Canada’s 770-km Bruce Trail, Chapple said. He quoted British research that a well-used long trail - the 285-km Offa’s Dyke Trail in Britain, with 240,000 user days a year - generated, for every £1 spent on maintenance, over £20 of hiker spending on food and drink and accommodation within the trail corridor.
“Te Araroa plans to link small communities, where possible just a day’s tramp apart, and these communities can expect to earn money from every hiker who passes through,” said Chapple. “I have heard the mayors discussing today how to get more people from the cities to their regions. The path is one way to achieve this.”
Te Araroa Trust hoped to establish a culture beyond the 12% of NZ men and 9% of NZ women who now tramp, to include a majority of New Zealanders. “In China Mao Tse Tung said ‘Everyone should see the Great Wall of China before they die.’ In New Zealand we suggest a new cultural goal - at some time in your life, or in sections over your lifetime, every Kiwi should walk the length of their country.
“But first - build your path.”
For that to occur, he said, councils should assign planners to co-operate with Te Araroa Trust to find a route for the trail, and to support construction in whatever ways they could. The Trust meantime would bring corporate and other money to the trail, and organise labour teams.
The Taskforce adopted Te Araroa in its just-published ‘Strategy 2001-2002.’ The grouping of mayors is chaired by Christchurch’s Garry Moore. The Taskforce’s major goal is that no young person under 25 years of age will be out of work or training in New Zealand communities by the year 2005. As at March 2001, 42% of all mayors throughout New Zealand have signed up to the initiative, and the Taskforce is working with the New Zealand Government, Local Government New Zealand, the Community Employment Group, and the Jobs Research Trust to battle unemployment.