Twenty years ago, the MP for Rotorua declared the Ngongotahā Stream Walkway project open.

In the years since, an ever-changing team of volunteers has kept the walkway maintained.

Now just two volunteers putting hours of time and effort into keeping the walkway maintained and are looking for others to jump on board.

Walkway project volunteer Gavin Corbett says a lot of the plantings you see on the walkway are the result of what volunteers have done in the past.

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He says now there are only two volunteers keeping the walkway maintained - himself and John Conway.

The walkway allows people to stroll upstream from the Ngongotahā township to the children's playground in Western Rd and beyond, almost as far as the A&P showgrounds.

The volunteer maintenance work they do includes clearing the stream banks, planting native trees, creating pathways and bush walks, pruning trees and shrubs, weeding and tidying up the rubbish.

"We are both in our early 70s and are keen to raise awareness of the project, and hopefully recruit some younger, more able volunteers," John says.

He says the walkways require constant maintenance, particularly after a severe flood.

Gavin Corbett (left) and John Conway on one of their volunteer work days at the Ngongotahā Stream walkway. Photo/Ben Fraser
Gavin Corbett (left) and John Conway on one of their volunteer work days at the Ngongotahā Stream walkway. Photo/Ben Fraser

"If work on the tracks doesn't continue the blackberry and gorse will take over again, and what we've done over the last 20 years will be lost."

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Gavin has been a volunteer of the project for three or four years and John has been a volunteer for nearly 20 years.

Gavin says he lives where he can see people using the walkway, which includes children riding bikes, fishermen, people walking their dogs and runners.

"It's well used and I also think it's one of the best kept secrets in Rotorua."

Gavin says being able to see the difference they have made after is what motivates him.

John says he has invested so much into the walkway these last 20 years.

"I'm getting a bit old and need to be replaced, I can't walk off and leave it.

"It's my passion and I just want to hand it over to someone as passionate as me."

The volunteers would love to hear from anyone who has a few hours to spare throughout the week.

Gavin says Bay of Plenty Regional Council is supplying plants in late September.

He is hoping to generate some interest in the Ngongotahā community and hold a planting day, along with a picnic or barbecue.

Kerry Smith, Bay of Plenty Regional Council area engineer for rivers and drainage, says the council supplied the project with 500 plants a couple of weeks ago and will be supplying just over 1500 in September.

He says the plants include a lot of native grasses and plants which will stabilise the riverbank but not restrict flows.

"They've been really self-sufficient, and have been eco-sourcing seeds and growing their own plants. Because of the flood they have exhausted their own resources.

"They are environmentally trying to reduce erosion by stabilising the banks, which is what council is all about.

"The area where they are working is a massive recreational asset for that community."

He says he would like to see schools getting their pupils involved, and will be approaching some of them.

Those who would like to get in touch about donating their time to do maintenance work on the walkway can call Gavin on (021) 226 3978.