Walkway to be Pike River memorial
A 45km walk from Blackball to Punakaiki on the West Coast is to be built as a memorial to the 29 men killed in the 2010 Pike River mining disaster.
Environment Minister Nick Smith announced the initiative today at the families memorial site in the Grey Valley that honours 29 workers killed at the mine in November 2010.
The new Pike29 Memorial Track will be New Zealand's 10th great walk. These are tracks renowned for outstanding scenery.
The Paparoa National Park is being extended by 3971 hectares to include the Pike River area to facilitate the project.
Bernie Monk, spokesman for the Pike River Families Group Committee, says the group is very supportive of the enduring memorial the project provides for the families and the economic benefit it will provide to the West Coast community.
Dr Smith said the new walk would include part of the existing Croesus Track and Pororari River Track.
It would include an 8km 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.
Two new 20-bed huts on the Moonlight Range and in the Pororari Valley will be open to walkers and mountain bikers.
The estimated cost of the project is $10 million.
The new areas in Paparoa National Park includes rich podocarp and beech forests that are home to great spotted kiwi, blue duck (whio), kaka and kakariki, Dr Smith says.
Earlier the Fairfax Sunday publications reported Anna Osborne, one of six women featured in a documentary The Women of Pike River, which will screen on TV One on Tuesday, thinks the walkway is distasteful.
"My husband is under that walkway and I think it's a sacred place. People should not be walking or cycling over it," she said.