Hut and track building and maintenance has always been a fun and rewarding activity undertaken by tramping and climbing clubs. Clubs come into their own when many hands make light work and nothing build club spirit better than some work undertaken for the greater good. Here is another account of Nga Tapuwae O Taneatua’s recent Kotepato Hut project, this time focusing on the club and the people, and destined for the local papers.
Giving something back…………
Six members of the Nga Tapuwae O Taneatua tramping club recently spent 2 days in the Waioeka Gorge area building a porch onto the front of an existing hut – Kotepato Hut – and doing some track work. We walked in and out, building materials helicoptered in. Much was achieved in short-time by the volunteers in very humid but fine weather.
Nga Tapuwae O Taneatua “the footsteps of Taneatua” Tramping club was established in 1968, currently has nearly 100 members from all over the Eastern Bay of Plenty. The weekly Thursday tramp sees 12-25 hearty souls explore a variety of local tracks and make a few of their own. The Sunday trampers although a smaller group have many years of tramping experience and undertake a lot of track work and arrange overnight tramping adventures. All club members are an adventuresome lot, social, fun, caring of each other and of course live in the best place in the world!
Nga Tapuwae-O-Taneatua Tramping Club has a long record of “giving back” to the areas members tramp in: Over the years club members have painted Wharekahika Hut, TeWaiti Hut, & Pakihi Hut, and scrubbed out and cleaned numerous huts we have stayed in. Track clearing has also been a regular activity, with Little Manganuku Track, Goldsmiths Track, The Tauranga Track-Waioeka, The TeWaiti Track, Wahaatua Track, and for many years the Pakihi Track.
On a regular trip to Kotepato Hut in the Waioeka Valley in 2015 the thought of improving this hut was conceived. The hut was in need of a tidy up, and the 12 bags rubbish we carried our gave a feeling of satisfaction and ownership. DOC had indicated that Kotepato Hut was no longer to receive maintenance, and could possibly be removed unless the community showed an interest in its maintenance. Kotepato Hut can be reached in under 2.5hours from the car park, so is ideal for families, and first time visitors, as well as fishermen and hunters. The hut was suffering from the lack of a deck and porch we thought, but who would have believed that 5 months later the thought would be turned into action.
The first step towards action was when Club Member Stuart Slade made a successful application to the Outdoor Recreation Consortium for financial support for volunteers to undertake the work. The application required the club to have a Management agreement with DOC to cover the project so this was sorted again by Stuart with a flurry of emails to committee members. Sketch plans were made and the local DOC staff arranged the purchase of materials and for them to be flown by Opotiki Helicopters into the site.
The real action began on the 25th of January. Six club volunteers walked into Kotepato Hut on the Monday morning. By lunch time we had dug out the area for the foundations and the helicopter had dropped materials and our gear in. By nightfall Monday we had the foundations completed, bearers attached, and all decking secured. By Tuesday the roof structure was completed, followed by the wall framing and cladding. On Wednesday after a celebratory dinner in the new porch the group walked out.
Volunteer Faye Gillin found it a “new and rewarding experience”. The six volunteer builders, all pensioners, worked well together. Many years of professional work experience (teachers, government worker, farmer and nurse) and lifetimes of home-handyman “kiwi can-do” skills culminated in a jovial, co-operative work environment. Masterchefs Margaret and Faye supplied nourishment for all, including pikelets, while the Te Pato stream provided a welcome cooling off swim in the late afternoon.
As with all tramping and outdoor activities we were all very conscious of safety issues with no incidents. When things were bit crowded on the small work site there was some track work to be done nearby. We also had time and materials to fit a bunk ladder to improve safety in reaching top bunks, and make a seat along one wall and a movable table and a step onto the porch near the existing water tank, which we managed to drain enough to fix the holes. Ms Gilllin recommends the experience to other clubs “to put something back” into the tramping areas we have the privilege to explore, enjoy and enhance.
Team Kotepatu Hut: Stuart and Margaret Slade, Peter Green, Peter Laing, Bob and Faye Gillon