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‘Polly’s Park’ to finally reopen

Flagstaff Team

Pioneer… Polly Pollock in the early 2000s

The restored walking track through Mary Barrett Glade, accessed from Lake Rd and running beneath Ryman’s William Sanders Retirement Village, is set to reopen on30 April.

A late-morning opening ceremony is planned, after which the public will once again be able to skirt the mangrove-fringed edge of Ngataringa Bay.

Known locally as Polly’s Park – after its founder Mabel “Polly” Pollock who died in 2010 – the glade was named after Pollock’s adult daughter who pre-deceased her.

The native-bush track is part the Wakakura Marginal Strip managed by the Department of Conservation (DoC). The track was damaged by slips prior to the Ryman village construction and then remained closed during construction, for safety reasons.

Locals have been keen to see it reopened, fearing all of Pollock’s hard work – clearing rubbish and weeds and planting natives over a 16-year period until 2009 – might have been wasted.

Now, after financial contributions to an upgrade by Ryman, and work by contractors organised by DoC, Ryman says it is pleased the public can enjoy the area again. Sections of boardwalk have been built and retaining walls installed in some areas.

For now, access to the track will be from Lake Rd only, opposite the northern end of Waitemata Golf Course. Along from the glade, walkers used to be able to head uphill to exit onto Wesley St, but the cul de sac off Ngataringa Rd, on the western edge of the Ryman site, is still blocked off for continuing construction.

A Ryman spokesperson said it was expected that later in the year Wesley St would reopen. Its turning bay and footpaths are to be rebuilt and made wider, with work due to get underway mid-year. “In an ideal world we would hand it all over at once, but the Wesley construction is complicated,” the spokesperson said.

Recognising demand for access from the public, it had been decided to go ahead and open the Lake Rd gate initially, meaning for now walkers will have to exit the same way.

Members of Pollock’s family have been invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, along with Devonport community and local-body figures, and Ryman’s chief operating officer, Cheyne Chalmers.

They will remember a feisty woman who toiled tirelessly on her labour of love. At times, she had help from community members with planting, but often she worked long hours alone.

Among those attending is Pollock’s son Brian, who over the summer holidays travelled from his Nelson home to install a wooden seat that he carved in his mother’s memory. It carries details of her family and her life, which included being the first female taxi driver in Auckland.

The Restoring Takarunga Hauraki (RTH) environmental group is looking forward to the reopening so it can extend its pest trapping work to the park. RTH co-ordinator Lance Cablk said it was the “last gap” along the estuary for the group’s focus on eradication.

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