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Beaches and trails no obstacles to all-terrain wheelchair

Central Hawke's Bay residents living with disabilities can now more easily access local beaches and walking tracks after Council and community worked together to research, fund and purchase a state-of-the-art all-terrain wheelchair.

 
Opening up Central Hawke’s Bay’s public places and spaces to people living with disability is an aim of the CHB Disability Network, and it was from their good idea that this joint project took shape.
 
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council gathered information on all-terrain options from other Councils, organisations and disability sector groups and through a website survey. These confirmed the difficulties many people using wheelchairs have when visiting beaches due to the soft sand. Walking trails pose similar challenges due to their uneven terrain.
 
After many meetings and funding applications, the good idea became a great result.
 
This week saw the launch of the new Hippocampe All Terrain Wheelchair at Centralines Sports Complex by Deputy Mayor Kelly Annand, representatives from the CHB Disability Network, funders, and staff.
 
The new wheelchair can be used on the beach, trails, forest walks and parks. It is easily transportable, can go into the water and has interchangeable wheels for either beach or land use.
 
“It’s awesome,” said Steve Makoare of Waipawa, who attended the launch and was the first person to try out the new all-terrain wheelchair. “I’ll definitely use it.”
 
Deputy Mayor Kelly Annand, Chair of Council’s Strategy & Wellbeing Committee, said “None of this happens in isolation. It’s because people with ideas and passion get together and make things happen. Council’s role is to advocate and facilitate community initiatives like this – we don’t want to take over or tell people how to do things. Our aim is to enable, bring groups together, and support them in practical ways.”
 
“Any strategy is only as good as the actions that come out of it. It’s times like this, when everything comes together, that you see all that work behind the scenes flow into the community.”

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council’s Community Wellbeing Strategy provides a framework for working with community groups, including the Disability Reference Group, through which Council facilitates and advocates for initiatives for people living with disabilities in the district.

The wheelchair’s cost - $10,500 including accessories and delivery - was fully met by community funding from Waipukurau Rotary Club, Takapau Lions and Hastings District Masonic Trust. Deputy Mayor Annand thanked and acknowledged these groups as the ‘quiet, unsung heroes of the community'.
 
The All Terrain Wheelchair will be kept at the Centralines Sports Complex and will be available to hire at no cost.
 
“We’ve got two long weekends coming up - Queen’s Birthday and Matariki, both perfect opportunities to pick up the new chair and explore Central Hawke’s Bay's beautiful walking trails and parks. Our advice is that it’s best to book early. Call 06 858 8972 or call in and talk to the friendly staff at the Centralines Sports Complex in River Terrace, Waipukurau,” says Deputy Mayor Kelly Annand.

Photo: L to R, Christine Renata - CHBDC Community Development Lead, Steve Makoare, Katrina Jamieson - Manager of the Paul Hunter Centre and a member of the CHB Disability Network, and Kelly Annand, Deputy Mayor - Central Hawke's Bay District Council.