Nature walk signals the coming of spring

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The Lake Ngatu reserve is the starting point for a nature walk aimed at encouraging people into the outdoors.
The Lake Ngatu reserve is the starting point for a nature walk aimed at encouraging people into the outdoors.

Lake Ngatu north of Kaitaia will come alive with spring energy during the Pipiwharauroa: Hikoi for Healthy Nature, Healthy People walk.

A collaboration between Ngai Takoto, the Department of Conservation and Healthy Families Far North, the inaugural event, on Wednesday, is to encourage communities to take advantage of the district's lush outdoors while participating in easily accessible physical activity.

Conservation Week is being marked across the nation from Saturday to Sunday, September 18, with the theme Healthy Nature and Healthy People.

Department of Conservation Far North community ranger Shayne Storey said the focus nationwide was on encouraging children and young people into the great outdoors.

However, the Tai Tokerau event had been organised with a different target group in mind.

"Our kuia and kaumatua are among the most cherished members of our communities.

We see this hikoi as a wonderful opportunity to uphold the kaitiakitanga message of Conservation Week, while looking after those whom we hold most dear," Ms Storey said.

The event has been themed around the pipiwharauroa, or shining cuckoo, which is traditionally recognised as the native bird whose call is a tohu, or sign, of the arrival of spring.

It will start at 10am with a mihi whakatau by local iwi Ngai Takoto at the Lake Ngatu Recreation Reserve carpark on Sweetwater Rd.

The walk will follow the 4km loop track at a leisurely pace, with local providers offering kayaking and traditional Maori games, rongoa (traditional medicine) and weaving demonstrations along the way. The walk will end with a communal barbecue back at the gathering site.

Walkers should bring sensible footwear, sunscreen and hats, and plenty of water for drinking.

Healthy Families Far North manager Allan Pivac said the day was the result of a community taking a national campaign and turning it into one that was locally meaningful, with the potential for becoming an annual event.

"Healthy Families Far North is a revolutionary approach to health that engages community leadership to improve people's lives where they live, learn, work and play.

The Pipiwharauroa: Hikoi for Healthy Nature, Healthy People walk is a fantastic opportunity for our communities to engage in physical activity while maximising the best that the Far North's natural resources have to offer."

- Northern Advocate

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