Group needs cash to extend park

By Peter de Graaf

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John Horrell, a volunteer gardener, explains plans for an expanded Roland's Wood to mayor John Carter, council staff, councillor Ann Court and neighbour Vivian Thonger. Photo / Peter de Graaf
John Horrell, a volunteer gardener, explains plans for an expanded Roland's Wood to mayor John Carter, council staff, councillor Ann Court and neighbour Vivian Thonger. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Far North mayor John Carter is backing a community group's plans to double the size of a popular Kerikeri park - but he is not promising any council funding.

A group called the Friends of Roland's Wood has launched a Givealittle campaign to raise $600,000 and buy a block of land adjoining the dog-friendly woodland on Inlet Rd before it is turned into a subdivision. The land has an existing consent to be carved into 14 sections.

The original 4ha Roland's Wood was bequeathed to the people and dogs of Kerikeri by Roland Sansom in 2001. Another 5.4ha he left to his late sister, Lavender, and partly planted in the same style, is due to go on the market within months - unless the Friends of Roland's Wood can get in first.

The extra land would allow improved access and parking as well as a greater variety of uses, such as a possible playground and a dog-free area of native bush backing onto the kiwi-rich Waitangi Forest.

Mr Carter, council staff, a councillor and community board members, was given a tour of Roland's Wood last week as the group explained its plans.

The mayor said it was a great project but the council's challenge was that it had no money of its own. All it could spend was ratepayers' money and there were many competing demands for that, from swimming pools to sealing dusty rural roads.

The council would take advice and discuss what it could do to help, he said.

Simon Upperton, chairman of the Friends of Roland's Wood Charitable Trust, said he did not expect, or want, the council to buy the land.

What he was hoping for was the help from the council or other organisations to buy time - possibly through underwriting or guaranteeing a loan - so the group could secure the land while continuing to raise money and apply for grants.

He hoped to have a price for the land by the end of this week. The group then had a limited time before the land went on the market. Lavender Sansom's sons liked the idea of an expanded Roland's Wood so he was hoping for a "friendly price".

- To donate go to givealittle.co.nz/org/friendsofrolandswood or make out a cheque to Friends of Roland's Wood and send it to Simon Upperton, 72 Riverview Rd, Kerikeri.

- Northern Advocate

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