Category Archives: BOIVR

Vintage Railway steams into a great fundraising event

The annual Vintage Railway Fun Trivia and Auction night held at the Waitangi Copthorne Hotel on Saturday 19 August proved to be another huge success. Organised by Blah Blah Marketing and the Vintage Railway, over 200 people from Kaitaia to Auckland were present and the venue was packed. And they were obviously there to enjoy the evening and to support the Vintage Railway in the process. Both aims were well achieved.

After being welcomed by Trust Secretary Sue Hamnett in the place of the ill Chairman Johnson Davis, Funding Manager and long-time Trust member Frank Leadley took the crowd through a powerpoint presentation which outlined the huge scale of the project. Although the evening was focussed on funding towards the new station at Opua, Frank emphasised that there are actually 4 components to the project –  at the Kawakawa Station there will be a number of building changes and rolling stock restorations, there will be the huge new railway and cycleway complex at Opua, there will be the full restoration of the historic railway line to link the two stations, and there will be a new and permanent cycleway within the railway corridor to replace the present leased use of the railway line.

Excluding the new cycleway which will be funded by FNDC, the cost of the first 3 components will be around $5.2 million. This is a huge amount of money for a Charitable Trust to raise, but with a combination of grants, philanthropic donations, potential overseas investment, Railway fundraising activities, infrastructure assistance from FNDC and loans, together with on-going community support, the Trust is hopeful its aims will be achieved and believes the whole region will benefit greatly from the economic and social outcomes that will flow from the project. These include 25 new jobs and the establishment of a Charitable Trust that will provide grants towards skills development and education –  the only Trust of its type in the area.

The evening was divided into 4 blocks, each with 3 components – a trivial pursuits section, a fun activity, and a set of auctions. The trivia sections were keenly contested, while Frank Leadley and Mayor John Carter had the crowd fully entertained with their crazy style of auctioneering, and the bids came thick and fast. A wide range of great auction items had been provided by supporters, including the Bay Of Islands Painting Group and the Northland Corrections Facility. A wide range of auction items from 52 donors and businesses included accommodation, meals, boat trips, para sailing, mountain bike rentals, scenic flights, and art work including a magnificent painting by Opua artist Di West of a cow at almost full size which was purchased by Wallie Titchener from Auckland for $1,400.

It was a great night which produced a gross total of $15,200. But the major outcome of the event was the hugely entertained crowd who now understand the scale of the Railway’s project and who are even more enthusiastic supporters.  

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Vintage Railway Resource Consent granted

The Bay Of Islands Vintage Railway is absolutely delighted that, after a long and costly process, the resource consent for a new railway station and cycleway complex to be constructed in the area known locally as the Colenso Triangle has been granted.

The process commenced in October 2016 and submissions closed on November 17, 2016. There were 121 submissions received by Northland Regional Council and 113 by Far North District Council, which was overwhelmingly in support of the railway proposal. However, there were a few submissions which expressed concerns over effects of the development on a small area of swamp and any bird life that utilised that area, the natural character, and cultural and historic effects.

Accordingly, a Hearing was conducted over the 2 days of 3 and 4 April by Dr Rob Lieffering from Nelson, who was very fair and impartial and conducted the Hearing in a highly professional manner. All submitters who wished to be heard were granted an objective and dispassionate opportunity to do so. One complication was that there was shared access off SH 11 with the local oyster farmers vintage Railway Resource Consent granted.

Who were seeking a reclamation adjoining the Railway site to land their products and the two applications had therefore been submitted together. There were many more objections to the oyster farmers’ application than there was to the Railway application, and this was a factor, in combination with the natural character and wetland issues, that resulted in the Railway’s application being declined.

This led to an appeal which was heard on 17 July, for which the two applications were “unbundled” and the Railway shifted the station sitting with its associated infrastructure and parking. The Railway also undertook to carry out an intensive predator control programme.

Dr Lieffering’s Decision Report was received on 25 August, and the Railway application was approved in full. His Report states that he is satisfied that the Railway has undertaken an adequate assessment of any potential adverse effects and, in fact, that “allowing the railway terminus to be constructed and operated promotes the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.”

There are conditions relating to storm water, sediment control, weed control, archaeology, etc. with which the Railway is very happy to comply. “But the huge plus for the whole region”, stated Vintage Railway spokesman and Project Chairman Frank Leadley “is that we can now proceed with confidence with gaining funding for the restoration of the North Island’s historic first railway line and in developing a tourist complex which will be huge for the region in terms of employment and in its intrinsic interest. The total project involves building and rolling stock developments at Kawakawa and the construction of a permanent cycleway by FNDC within the railway corridor, as well as the large multi-purpose station building at Opua. We have a massive job ahead of us as we are looking at raising around $5.2million for the project, but we have great community support and are confident we will reach our targets,” he declared.  The Business Case was peer reviewed by Craig Wilson Quality Tourism in Nelson who declared it to be “one of the most exciting projects I have encountered” and which will be “the equal or better of any similar projects in the country.”

The Resource Consent process will have cost the Railway Trust over $50,000. “This is really tough for a Charitable Trust,” Frank Leadley stated, “but it serves to steel our resolve to get the job started as soon as possible so that the whole community can benefit from, and be proud, of what has been achieved,” he concluded.