Otatara pump track worth the wait

Young riders try out the new pump track, on the corner of Dunns and Oreti Rds, Otatara, on Friday.

INVERCARGILL is home to a new pump track result of dogged determination from a community keen to get it across the line.

About 30 adults and children braved the rain in Otatara on Friday to celebrate the opening of the new track on the corner of Dunns and Oreti Rds.

But the project was not without its challenges.

After resident Derek Gostelow died in 2019 leaving $90,000 to the Invercargill City Council (ICC) for community projects within Otatara, there was disagreement about where the funds should go.

Council staff recommended the money be put towards improvements at Fosbender Park, but a petition signed by 1000 Otatara residents said otherwise.

In June, it was decided at an ICC meeting the money should go towards the now-completed track.

Glenys Hawkes, who is a niece of Mr Gostelow, was present at the opening and said she felt quite emotional.

“It’s [the money] been spent where they [my uncle and auntie] would have wanted it. I think, too, they would have loved it, because they never had their own children.”

A blessing for the track was given by ICC mana whenua representative Evelyn Cook, who said it was not a coincidence there was rain on the day.

“We often say for special things that there’s just a little bit of rain, Ranginui’s tears for Papatuanuku, his wife.

“It’s a good sign. It’s cleansing, and it’s freshening. It was just enough.”

The track was officially opened by Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt letting off a start-race siren. He said he had scooted to work the previous day.

Also present was petition organiser Penny Ivy, who was given a bouquet of flowers. She was pleased the track was finally open after the two years it had taken to get it across the line.

“It’s well worth the wait.”