Hatea Loop set to be lit

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This section of the Hatea Loop has not been lit because of methane gas issues. But work on installing lights will start this month, and is hoped to be completed by the end of July. Photo / John Stone
This section of the Hatea Loop has not been lit because of methane gas issues. But work on installing lights will start this month, and is hoped to be completed by the end of July. Photo / John Stone

An unlit section of Whangarei's Hatea Loop will have lights installed the end of July.

The Whangarei District Council has brought the work forward after the abduction and assault of a young woman jogging on an unlit part of the walkway on Friday.

Yesterday, the young woman, who is recovering in Whangarei Hospital, issued a statement thanking the public for their support after a Reclaim The Loop rally on Sunday which saw more than 1000 people turn out.

The walkers also donated more than $4000 to the woman.

Work on lighting the loop had previously struck a hitch because of an old dump site in the area releasing potentially explosive methane gas.

Yesterday, WDC parks and recreation manager Paul McDonald said lights would be installed along the Hatea Loop between the Blue Pukeko Bus stop on Riverside Dr and Te Matau a Pohe by the end of July.

The work had been brought forward about a month, with WDC keen to take immediate action.

Mr McDonald said work in recent months had found a solution to the methane gas problem.

"When the lights are being installed the lighting ducts will be filled with bentonite clay to prevent sparks. The team is now pricing the work so a contractor can start work this month."

Mr McDonald said the council had worked towards creating activity spots around the Loop since it opened in July 2014.

"Putting these spots quite close together along the Loop will... help people keep a good eye out for each other. This lighting is part of that work."

Directly after the attack, Mayor Sheryl Mai said it was impossible to know whether lighting would have prevented the attack.

"Regardless, we'll be working to reduce the chance of something like this ever happening again," she said.

The victim, in her early 20s, was dragged off the Loop at 6.30am on Friday and driven back to a house where she was sexually assaulted.

She was left badly injured in central Whangarei about an hour later. The man allegedly responsible was arrested just before 1pm on Friday.

Whangarei police Inspector Justin Rogers was one of the walkers and said it was heartening to see such a huge turnout in support of the victim.

He spoke to the crowd before the event, assuring them he was confident the person responsible had been caught.

He said many of the staff who worked on the inquiry were among the marchers.

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