On Monday the 7th of December 2020, Reta Pohe, local Minister, blessed the workers and the machineries that will be involved in the construction of the Te Aratia walkway. Reta shared with the ropu his connection with the river and his pleasure to be able to contribute his own skills to this fantastic community project. Reta placed the Walkway and its users under the protection of our Almighty God. A big thank you to Reta for making the time to support us.The gathering was hosted under the protection of the newly built waharoa by EIT students and local carpenter Will Keruru. This structure will be the gateway for a 24 km loop that will take people from Whangawehi – to Kinikini , Mahia beach and back to Whangawehi. A connection with the Mahia Scenic Reserve will also be possible.The blessing was followed by korero from Whangawehi volunteers, Founders Pera and Janice Edwards (Kaiuku Marae), Rae Te Nahu (Tuahuru Marae and Secretary of the Whangawehi Catchment) and Pat and Sue O’Brien (Chair of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group). We acknowledged the group’s Founder Kathleen Mato who recently passed away. Kathleen committed a good part of her later life to setting up and implementing a large scale conservation programme for the Whangawehi Catchment.Kevin Jones (archaeologist) came to provide guidance and reinforce the need for contractors to follow the Accidental Discovery Protocol set out by Heritage New Zealand. The main archaeological site, a whare floor possibly dating from 1850 to 1890 has already been retired and fenced off. Kevin followed Jeff Carters from Southern Star Trails and Nic when they where marking the layout of the track. Kevin will intervene if any archaeological artefacts are uncovered.Southern Star Trails’ owner Jeff Carters and his team will be working on the walkway all summer. It is expected to have the work completed by the end of February. During the construction phase, the public is not allowed on the track. A formal opening ceremony will take place in March 2021 to celebrate the end of the construction phase.