Walk with campaigner inspirational

By Laurel Stowell

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WARM DOWN: Young walkers cooled off in the Rangitikei River on Sunday.PHOTOS/SUPPLIED
WARM DOWN: Young walkers cooled off in the Rangitikei River on Sunday.PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

One walk with Napier social justice campaigner Pat Magill and Bulls community development manager Jan Harris was completely won over.

She was one of about 25 people who attempted a section of the Te Araroa trail on Saturday with members of the Te Araroa Offers Hope Trust. Its founder, Mr Magill, says walking the trail with others can be an alternative education for disadvantaged youth who might otherwise get entangled in the justice system.

Saturday's group included about 13 teenagers from the Napier suburb of Maraenui, as well as Mrs Harris, Mr Magill, volunteer first aid staff, Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson and Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie.

Mrs Harris had the job of organising health and safety en route, and it wasn't easy.

The group was to have walked south from Turakina Beach and then inland to Bulls through Santoft Forest. She had organised support vehicles to accompany it on forestry roads.

The forest was so dry that no vehicles were allowed, in case they started a fire. She instead organised a walk from the Brandon Hall Rd corridor through the forest to the sea and back again, a smaller distance of just under 14km.

Out at the beach some of the party had a swim and everyone had lunch and talked. There were some priceless conversations, Mrs Harris said.

"It was actually quite spiritual. All those elders believe in those young people and want a better future for them. It's amazing how one man with one tiny little thing can have a go at changing the world. Pat really does make a difference."

She's a convert to the view that a long walk can be a "walk to wellbeing - you come out the other end a better person".

She was inspired enough to take morning tea to the group on Sunday, as it carried on from Bulls to Feilding with Maori Party MP Marama Fox as a guest.

Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson said he unfortunately had to leave the group early, but it was really neat. He wants to do the rest of the Rangitikei stretch of the trail, to understand it better, and said it was getting very busy.

"If you drive from Marton to Whanganui most days you will pass multiple walkers on that walkway."

He plans to talk to his council about the opportunities the trail offers his district.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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