Businesses and schools in a remote Hawke's Bay community have come together to offer a huge safety boost to kayakers and trampers.
Following the completion of a three-year fundraising campaign conducted by the Mohaka and Kaweka Emergency Radio Trust, remote areas of the Kaweka Forest Park and Mohaka River now have a direct communication link to the outside world.
The $60,000 project to establish an emergency radio capability for the area has installed four repeaters at various locations, which will support the use of radios across the entire area.
Trust spokesman Norm Brown, from Mohaka Rafting, said radios would also be made available for anyone to use when venturing into the area.
"We are seeing more growth each year in the number of groups using these areas, and, with that, naturally comes an increase in incidents."
Brown said the trust was established to help solve the issue after previous incidents where river-based groups had been asked to aid emergency services but been unable to find a suitable signal to communicate.
The aim of the radio network is not to replace Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) but it could provide a means of avoiding a major rescue effort, and can also be of value during a rescue effort where local operators, such as himself, may be assisting authorities in a rescue effort.
"It is very important to carry a PLB when venturing into remote areas. The addition of a radio could, for example, serve as a means of informing base of slow progress, or the need for further equipment, without having to activate the PLB."
Carrying an emergency radio added another important layer of safety by providing a robust source of communication with civilisation should it be required.
As of this week the radios are up and running and available to rent at just $15 a day, $30 a weekend or $50 a week.
"A lot of work has gone into establishing this capability and we are really urging groups going into these areas to make use of the radios."
He said the initiative wouldn't have come to fruition without the generous support of organisations such as Pamu Farms, who provided the capital investment required to install a repeater on their land and local residents who helped erect the repeaters.
"Fundraising has been vital to this project. In addition to Pamu Farms, we have had support, via a Givealittle page, from various schools and organisations who use the area as well."
The first two repeaters, located along the Mohaka River were already operating and a third, established on the north face of the Kawekas was in its test phase.