13km Whau River path would be financed by mix of council and community funding.
A bid to link two harbours via a new path for walking and cycling has been launched, with its backers promising a self-help project that will go easy on Auckland ratepayers' pockets.
The path is proposed to go along the Whau River - an arm of the Waitemata Harbour that reaches from the Te Atatu waterfront to deep inside West Auckland suburbs nudging the Manukau Harbour.
"For too long we have turned our backs on the Whau River" is the slogan of a group, headed by Keep Auckland Beautiful chairman Iris Donoghue, which believes the sleepy mangrove-fringed estuary can be a valuable addition to Auckland's growing coastal walkway system.
She said the project would follow the example of the 10km walkway at New Plymouth, which was built in stages on the city's neglected ocean edge.
It was built to a high standard and a bridge and sea walls raised construction cost to about $1 million a kilometre.
As well as a draw for visitors, the 13km Whau project would restore the river's nature, link existing parks, reserves, greenways and neighbourhoods and give public access to the river.
The path would be connected under the Te Atatu motorway bridge to the peninsular walkway and, at Olympic Park, New Lynn, would link with the Portage Rd walking/cycling paths to the shores of the Manukau Harbour.
Instead of being left to the council to steer, the project would be a partnership of an independent trust, with representatives from community and environmental groups, Whau and Henderson-Massey local boards and Auckland Council.
Launching a project which needs $4 million to get started might seem futile when the council is trying to prune its budget for the next 10 years.
However, Whau ward councillor Ross Clow said the former Waitakere City Council was always stretched to pay for public facilities because it did not have much business rates revenue.
This prompted community groups to look to supplementary sources of money, with success.
The Whau project too would seek support from the Portage and Waitakere Licensing Trusts and the operator of gaming machines in their venues, The Trusts Community Foundation.
ASB Community Trust and Lottery Grants would be approached and so would Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
"Partnerships have enabled all sorts of things to happen out here that would not have otherwise."
A prime example was the Government's support for the $400 million New Lynn revitalisation but Mr Clow said three other strategic projects for West Auckland were enabled by "other sources" of funding.
The Trusts Waitakere Arena cost $38 million. Waitakere City Council gave $20 million and other sources $18 million, including a $10 million grant from The Trusts Community Foundation (TTCF).
Olympic Park New Lynn cost $6 million with Waitakere City Council and Auckland Council contributing $1.5 million and TTCF most of the shortfall.
Lopdell House Arts Centre, Titirangi, cost $19 million for restoration and earthquake strengthening, a new gallery and carpark. Waitakere City Council and Auckland Council gave $12 million and others $7 million, including TTCF $4 million.