There’s nothing on in council this week so I’m going to write about something that is close to my heart, Titirangi.

I think we as a community could do better by Titirangi.

It’s been amazing seeing all the people engaged with Titirangi via the Everest challenge. The hill still gets a lot of regular use, but there’s this strong sense of community and camaraderie that is attached to the challenge and it warms my heart seeing that in action.

I recently saw someone comment online that we should be encouraging our community to pull the holly leaved senecio off the hill and I wholeheartedly agree. The hill starts to go purple around the same time as the challenge so, to me, it makes sense for this campaign to be tied in with the Everest challenge. Not as part of the competition but as a community building exercise. There were tens of thousands of climbs up and down the maunga and if everyone pulled one or two plants then that would be a lot of senecio taken off our most prominent city landmark. Those who are in the know will say we’re supposed to pull the plant before it flowers but let’s work out the technicalities later on, let’s commit to sorting it, now.

In addition to the maunga’s environmental health, I think we should be trying to make sure Titirangi maunga is as safe as possible. Which is why in the recent Gisborne Herald poll and in council I support Titirangi being one way.

For the walkers and cycle users of the hill, vehicle traffic both ways is a nightmare and with usage increasing the safest option to me seems to be in making it one way. I understand buses can already get down the other side and navigate the chicanes also, however if there is more that is needed to make the other side safer then I am open to hearing it. There are other maunga across our country that have zero vehicle traffic at the summit, they still retain vehicle access for the elderly and infirmed but able bodied people must walk. Maybe this is something we need to look into in the future.

Unfortunately there are also people in our community who leave their broken bottles and rubbish up the maunga at night, which is why I think we should be considering having opening and closing times for the maunga. There is precedence for blocking traffic from accessing public areas in our country. The maunga in Auckland all have opening and closing times for traffic. We already have a closing time for the carpark at Waikanae to control vehicle access, we should seriously be considering opening and closing times for vehicle access on Titirangi to maintain it’s cleanliness and it’s safety.

Titirangi has been getting a lot of love lately; the tree plantings, the tracks going in, the navigations kōrero focussing on Titirangi and Ngāti Oneone, it’s been awesome! Let’s make sure we continue that good attention.

I want to end this column by sending a public message of aroha to the Jones whānau. He mihi aroha rawa atu ki te whānau pani I roto I tenei wā pouri. Absolutely devastated for our Manutuke, our Ngāti Maru, our Pāhou marae whānau in this time of sadness and grief. As a community, we grieve also. Mā te Atua e manaaki, e awhina.

Rest in Love Erica.