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Further $520k for Hauraki Rail Trail

Hauraki district councillors may have been apprehensive to provide another half-a-million dollars to the Hauraki Rail Trail Trust, but in the end, all voted in support.
Now, because the funds were unbudgeted, ratepayers will be impacted.
At its April 26 meeting, Hauraki District Council unanimously voted to provide $133,000 for the trust’s Waitakaruru to Kōpū project, and a further $387,000 for its Pūkorokoro to Kaiaua project.
The $520,000 spent will not impact rates for this financial year [2023/24] but could cost ratepayers an extra $2.36 in 2024/25.
The Hauraki Rail Trail has sought funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – which could reduce the rating impact – but that is yet to be confirmed.
Paeroa ward councillor Carole Daley measured funding the two sections of the trail against the impact on ratepayers.
“For us to approve an extra $520,000 on one issue – and I’m not saying it’s not worthwhile – but at the end of the day, we’ve either got leeway to spend $520,000 unbudgeted on one thing at this stage or not.
“I know that we want to fix everything,” she said, “but how come our council can be the backstop to spend this kind of money when you can’t get information out of regional council?
“I know that it’s a very worthwhile cause, but so is us trying to balance the books for our ratepayers.”
While elected members recognised the importance and popularity of the trail, Waihi councillor Josh Martyn did feel the decision was a “large, unbudgeted expense” that council should consider carefully, while Plains ward councillor Ray Broad suggested further information be brought to the table.
According to a report presented to elected members, the trail’s section from Pūkorokoro to Kaiaua needed completion to remedy storm damage and relocate Rays Rest.
The chenier shell along the waterfront gets “picked up and moved around” every storm event, it said, and the section had been rehabilitated three times – contributing to a budget overspend.
Meanwhile, the Waitakaruru to Kōpū section of the trail is currently closed as Waikato Regional Council undertakes work on its flood protection scheme and stopbanks.
The long-term intention for the trust was to reinstate the trail on the stopbank, while the short-term focus was to build a goat’s track, but the timing and feasibility remains unknown.
More information can be found in the agenda on: