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Great Walk to memorialise 29 Pike Miners

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister for the Environment
15 November 2015

Great Walk and National Park addition to memorialise 29 Pike miners

A 45-kilometre Great Walk is to be constructed through the Paparoa National Park and the Park extended by 3971 hectares to include the Pike River area as a memorial to the 29 men killed in the 2010 mining disaster, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“This Pike29 Memorial Track and an enlarged National Park has come about because of the families’ determination that some good might come out from the terrible tragedy that occurred on 19 November 2010. It will bring tourism and economic development to the West Coast, permanently protect an area of high conservation values and ensure the final resting place of the 29 miners is accessible but properly respected,” Dr Smith says.

“The 45-kilometre Pike29 Memorial Track will be constructed from Blackball to Punakaiki, including part of the existing Croesus Track and the popular Pororari River Track. It will include an eight-kilometre side track to the Pike River Mine where there will be an information centre at the amenities area, and a discreet memorial at the mine portal. The new track will be to Great Walk standards, include two new 20-bed huts on the Moonlight Range and in the Pororari Valley, and will be open to walkers and mountain bikers. The estimated cost of the project is $10 million – for which additional funding has been provided to the Department of Conservation.

“The Pike29 Memorial Track will be a stunning addition to New Zealand’s network of Great Walks. The scenery of the limestone gorges of the Pororari Valley combined with views of the Tasman Coast, the Pancake Rocks, and the Southern Alps from the Moonlight Range will make it a spectacular track. These natural features, combined with the mining heritage sites up Blackball Creek and the information centre on the Pike disaster, also make for an experience of history and remembrance. Walkers and bikers will experience lush nikau palms, fragile and unique alpine plants, and extensive birdlife.”

The new Pike29 Memorial Track will be New Zealand’s tenth Great Walk. These are tracks renowned for outstanding scenery, built to the highest standards and promoted domestically and internationally with a partnership with Air New Zealand. The existing Great Walks network was established in 1993 and this is the first addition since. It is also the first Great Walk wholly on the West Coast.

The 3971-hectare extension to the Paparoa National Park includes the catchment of the Pike Stream from the top of the Paparoa Ranges and includes all of the conservation area used by the Pike River Mine Company. The proposal by the families for the addition has been supported by the New Zealand Conservation Authority, the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board, and Ngai Tahu. The proposal was approved by Cabinet last Monday and will take effect on 18 November.

“This is a welcome significant addition to the 39,036-hectare Paparoa National Park. The area includes rugged landscape, rich podocarp and beech forest that are home to great spotted kiwi, blue duck (whio), kaka and kakariki,” Dr Smith says.

“The extension of the National Park and proposed new Pike29 Memorial Track will require a review of the Paparoa National Park Management Plan. This will begin shortly and is to be completed in 2016. The next step for the new track will be the detailed design and seeking private sector contractor partners for its construction. The new track is planned to be opened at the end of 2018.

“This new Pike29 Memorial Track will bring new investment and jobs to the West Coast through the construction phase and long term through tourism. These will be welcomed in a region that has had more than its fair share of knocks.”

“The Pike River Families Group Committee has worked closely with the Department of Conservation and Government representatives throughout the development of this project, from its very inception through to the announcement today. The Committee is very supportive of the enduring memorial that the project provides for the families who lost loved ones in the mining disaster and the economic benefit it will provide to the West Coast community going forward,” the Committee’s spokesperson Bernie Monk says.

ends

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