Te Araroa trail flawed - farmer

By Laurel Stowell -
2 comments
Turakina farmer Andrew Major says Turakina Beach Rd doesn't have enough verge to keep Te Araroa trail walkers safe. PHOTO/ LAUREL STOWELL
Turakina farmer Andrew Major says Turakina Beach Rd doesn't have enough verge to keep Te Araroa trail walkers safe. PHOTO/ LAUREL STOWELL

Turakina farmer Andrew Major can see only hardship to himself if he allows New Zealand's Te Araroa trail to cross his farm.

He believes he is the only landowner preventing the trail from following the coast between Whanganui and Koitiata.

On the other hand, he said the trail's current route on busy SH3 and Turakina Beach Rd is dangerous.

Turakina Beach Rd has very little verge. Driving it, he has nearly hit walkers coming around corners at dusk.

He is feeling "under attack" from Government's new health and safety legislation, which makes him responsible for the safety of everyone on his property. The expectations around trail walking were not consistent with that, he said.

"They're telling us that our farms are dangerous, that we have to show people where the hazards are and we have a duty of care to look after those people while they're on our property.

"Then they come to me and say "We want a walking track through your property".

"How about this duty of care? How about the hazards? Will I have to sign the people in? They say to me "No, it's all personal responsibility". I say personal responsibility is gone. We are all under duty of care now."

He's also worried the trail would open up his farm to "undesirables" as well as trail walkers. He's noticed other landowners who give public access have chains on gates and put up No Hunting signs.

People could steal property or kill animals, or they could see farming practises they don't like and tell the authorities. If people on his farm became a problem it would fall to him to remove them.

The Te Araroa coastal route, the alternative to the current road walking, requires the building of footbridges across the Whangaehu and Turakina rivers. Te Araroa Trust CEO Rob Wakelin says they will not be built unless landowners give access to the whole route.

Mr Major has had amicable discussions with both Mr Wakelin and Te Araroa Whanganui Trust member Brian Doughty, and said they haven't come to a full stop.

A walker himself, Mr Major likes the trail concept but said there were too many problems where the trail crossed private land.

Most walkers start the 3000km trail at Cape Reinga in spring. There can be 20 or 30 a day passing through Whanganui in early summer, he said.

On Thursday the Chronicle passed three in just an hour on SH3 and Turakina Beach Rd.

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