Walk for the Planet stands on many legs
The Walk for the Planet (W4TP) will provide people a chance to contemplate our relationship with the earth, get in touch with and celebrate the natural world, and raise environmental concerns.
While a committee in Christchurch launched the idea and is providing guidance and advice, the various stages of the walk and local activities are being organised by regional coordinators.
Few if any walkers will tread the full distance from Stewart Island to Wellington. Most will join W4TP in their local area. It is anticipated that the largest numbers will take part when the Walk arrives in major towns.
Large parts of the W4TP itinerary have been chalked out but gaps remain in some legs, particularly those at the end of the journey. W4TP organisers encourage church people, environmentalists and others to get involved and join those who are organising activities in their region, or take the initiative and create an event to accompany the walk.
The Walk for the Planet website provides more information on the event and an on-line registration form where you can sign up yourself or your organisation. See www.walk4theplanet.org.nz.
Organisers have stressed that W4TP itself should not have a harmful impact on the environment so any travel via fossil fuelled transport will be offset by planting trees.
Local organiser Bev Osborn says while W4TP will be launched on Ash Wednesday, Feb 25, local people will host a Pancake Tuesday lunch and sell pancakes to the public. Proceeds will go to an environmental cause.
On Ash Wednesday a tree will be planted and there will be a walk – possibly in Rakiura National Park – that ultimately arrives in Halfmoon Bay.
Bev hopes to have kayaks, dinghies, and other boats escort the ferry carrying walkers when it leaves Stewart Island and when it arrives in Bluff.
Regional coordinator Sister Judith Robinson has mapped out legs of the Walk beginning in Bluff. Judith and an Invercargill-based committee will organise the Walk as far as Gore. She is looking for someone to coordinate it from Gore to Balclutha.
Judith expects local people to take part in limited sections of the walk, for example, over the four kms from Edendale Hill to the Edendale township.
Some Invercargill congregations are planning events for Sunday, February 29th. These include All Saints Anglican Church, which will hold an Eco Expo and walk along the Waihopai River. During their stay in Invercargill walkers will either stay with billets or at Te Tomairangi, the Catholic marae.
Plans for W4TP are quite advanced for the Otago stage of the walk. It will travel from Balclutha to Lake Waihola on Friday, March 6th and the next day into Dunedin. The Dunedin City Council will provide transportation for people who want to travel to Lake Waihola to walk into the city.
The Dunedin organising team includes veteran of the Hikoi of Hope Rev Wiremu Quedley, city councillor Fliss Butcher, environmentalists, and people from a variety of churches.
Local coordinator Rev Greg Hughson says the Walk should arrive at Hillside Road Methodist Church in South Dunedin late in the afternoon of March 7th. From there it will walk to the Octagon where Mayor Peter Chin will greet it. An outdoor service is planned at First Presbyterian Church the next day.
As it travels north of Dunedin, the Walk will pass the Orokonui Ecosanctuary. On the way to Oamaru overnight stays will be in Karitane, Hampden and Kakanui. A supporting event will be held in Central Otago, including a walk.
Rev Sue McCafferty is coordinating W4TP in Oamaru. Sue says good news stories the Walk will highlight include Oamaru’s recycling centre and its colonies of yellow-eyed and blue penguins.
As it crosses the Waitaki River on its way to Waimate, the Walk will raise the environmental concerns about excessive demand for water for irrigation and hydro power generation.
Canterbury and Marlborough
Many of the legs on the top half of the South Island are yet to be finalised. W4TP organisers are still looking for a coordinator to put plans in place for the stretch between Waimate and Temuka.
Ashburton-based Rev Alan Judge is organising the Walk between the Rangitata and Rakaia Rivers. Walkers will stay at Ealing (near Hines) on March 24, Ashburton the next night, and Rakaia on the 27th.
Rev Jan Fogg of the Hornby/Riccarton Methodist Parish is coordinating the Walk from Rolleston into central Christchurch, which falls on Earth Day, March 28th. An ecumenical service will be held at the Christchurch Cathedral the following day.
No organisers are in place for the other legs of the journey though a group of walkers has pledged to make the trip from Amberley to Cheviot. Transit New Zealand has advised organisers not to have walkers along most of the coastal highway south and north of Kaikoura.
The Methodist Harriers have volunteered to run the section from Cheviot to Kaikoura, and W4TP organisers are looking for cyclists to cover the distance from Kaikoura to Ward.
While no one is yet coordinating events in Marlborough, the Wesley Centre in Blenheim will provide a meal and possibly accommodation.
Nelson supporters of the walk are expected to hold a church service focused on environmental issues and may organise a walk to join up with the main body in Picton.
A service will be held at the Anglican Cathedral on Easter Sunday and it is not yet decided with W4TP walkers and organisers will meet with politicians to express their concerns about the environment.