With a view to die for, new seats and tables have been provided on the Whanganui River Road.

The facility is at Aramoana at the top of the Gentle Annie hill, and it offered a wonderful panorama when a blessing was held on Friday.

The seats and tables have been provided by the Friends of the Whanganui River using funds from a bequest made by the group's founder, Arthur Bates, who died in 2002. The Whanganui Department of Conservation assisted with the installing of the tables.

The Friends committee saw the facility as a good way to commemorate the work of Mr Bates in making the river and its history better known. He was well-known as an author of many illustrated books about the river, his best known being The Bridge to Nowhere which describes the ill-fated Mangapurua Valley, settled with returned soldiers from the Great War of 1914-18.


At Friday's blessing, Friends chairman Alan Donald spoke of Mr Bates love of the river and how he promoted it in his writings. Aramoana was a special place for Mr Bates as he would always stop there and say a karakia to the river before proceeding up the River Road.

Mr Donald said the tables were a memorial to the writer, and would be an invitation to travellers on the road to take a break and appreciate the beauty of the River.

Don Wickham, a local farmer, told of his experiences as a boy in riding to Upokongaro School over Aramoana. He also spoke of the history and legends of the area.

Also present at the ceremony was Arthur Bates' brother, Alan, who appreciated what that the Friends were doing in continuing his brother's work with respect to the river.

Kaumatua Ken Mair blessed the tables, and kaumatua Ratana Rock added his blessings.

The Friends of the Whanganui River is a group whose main aim is to source stories and historical information on the river. These are presented to members in the form of annuals, newsletters and talks.

The group also organises trips to places with a connection to the river.

Part of Mr Bates' bequest has been used by the Friends to provide signs in the Mangapurua Valley which show where the various returned servicemen farmed. Another part has been used to fund an obelisk at the Mangapurua trig which was unveiled on Anzac Day 2016.

There is a small residue which will go towards providing a map of the river at the John Coull Hut which is located more or less midway between Whakahoro and Pipiriki on the river.