Paul Freeman, one of the original men who accepted the radical idea of pursuing the implementation of walking tracks through Mangawhai Park, has resigned after ten years of active service on the Track Development committee now called the Mangawhai Tracks Charitable Trust.
While many locals discussed the possibilities that the Park offered, a band of men pushed, with spades and slashers in hand, their way through the kanuka, manuka and entangling asparagus fern creating our first walking tracks. They sought no permission believing that what they were doing was not harming the bush/scrub and if eventually the track was abandoned regeneration would take care of the clean up
Paul made an incalculable contribution towards the development of the Mangawhai tracks from the time the group began in 2007.
Years of thought went into the idea of how to create a track though Mangawhai Park, the land behind the Bowling Club. When someone who knew about tracks came along the Track Development group was formed. Once we had the plan from Trevor Butler there was no stopping us. Don Goldschmidt with prompting from his wife led out, but it was Paul who had the contacts, gathering up his Bowling Club mates and encouraging them to attend and continue attending a regular Friday morning session of physical work. Rough at first, the track from Molesworth Drive to Thelma Road became so popular it was not long before it was smooth and runnable. Walkers loved the proximity to home and enjoyed the walk through the bush, especially on a hot day.
It was Paul who organised the opening of that first track – ‘The Last of the Summer Wine” – February 6, 2008 - when finally, the Council was officially informed of what had been happening in the Park. Tom Smith, at the time a Kaipara councilor was invited, to cut the ribbon. Flyers were printed, and Paul befriended the postie to distribute them with the result that 200 people, showed up for the opening which was followed by a walk on the track through to Thelma Road. Everyone returned via the road to enjoy the BBQ at the Bowling Club. It was a wonderful day and one to remember.
Not content with one track Paul led the group through the northern side of the Park, so Paul’s Track was formed alongside the driving range.
Paul’s vast experience at organising groups also included fund-raising, filling in application forms and completing the follow up which meant the group could be recognised as a responsible and reliable group. Paul was invaluable in this regard as he brought to the group his previous experiences working with volunteers. Paul was able to encourage many individuals into the group having found that there were people looking for a physical companionable activity to fill their retirement days. Fridays became a day they looked forward to as there was fun and laughter (sometimes morning tea) and the satisfaction with a job well done. The Development Group became the Tracks Charitable Trust bringing with it change and new members. The group will miss Paul’s pragmatism when at the odd time, his feed-back has halted some suggestions that had arisen before an evaluation of the consequences and it is in this aspect of his expertise that the Trust is sure to miss his presence.
Thank you, Paul for ten years of enthusiasm and loyal support.