Reopening of the Kurt Brehmer Walkway

It’s really rewarding to acknowledge effort and that’s exactly what the RBA did for everyone that was involved in the re-opening of the Kurt Brehmer Walkway on Monday 23rd May 2022, by celebrating with a morning tea.

This was a community effort involving conservation volunteers of Friends of Kurt Brehmer Walkway, and a joint presentation from Kim Watts (Rosebank Wellbeing Collab) and Gilbert Brakey (Whau River Catchment Trust) asking for a Geotech report to be done, which resulted in partial funding from the Whau Local Board for the report, and finally Auckland Council doing their part to meet the funding for the upgrade of the path.

Robin Brehmer (Kurt Brehmer’s daughter) has kindly shared the background history of the Kurt Brehmer Walkway with us.

Tucked away behind the industrial façade of Rosebank Road, Avondale, lies a wonderful coastal reserve. Running alongside the Whau River, the Kurt Brehmer Walkway leads you on a bush pathway from the end of Charann Place past changing river views through Saunders Reserve to emerge at the end of Timothy Place, or vice versa of course.

A middle section of the walkway, gated off for the past eight years (Aug 2014) because of unstable ground, has prevented walkers from doing the whole 1.5km stretch. Now the ground has been stabilised, the Kurt Brehmer Walkway has just reopened, and the public can enjoy the complete walkway again.

A level track has been installed by Auckland Council this month to even out the rough slip area. The raised track will also protect the kauri tree’s roots from kauri dieback disease possibly brought in on walkers’ shoes.

The dedicated conservation volunteers of Friends of Kurt Brehmer Walkway have worked in the slip area over the past 20 months, wrestling with severe weed infestations and replanting with eco-sourced native trees. After 1700 hours of their volunteer input, the slip area now provides a far better outlook for the walker. Young trees are flourishing despite the dry summer. Native bird life is increasing.

Research is not really needed to tell us that being in the outdoor bush environment is beneficial to our wellbeing, physical and mental, and the walkway provides a close-by place where Rosebank Peninsula workers can unplug from technology, take a lunch break, and go for a meditative stroll in the fresh air, absorbing the peaceful atmosphere and birdsong.

The walkway first opened 20 years ago, and had its origins associated with Reckitt and Colman, the first factory on Rosebank Road in the late 1950s. Reckitts donated to the public the southern strip of the walkway (Charann Place to Saunders Reserve). Reckitt and Colman, founded on Quaker principles, were very community-minded and committed to the environment and the social responsibility of business. The council provided prizes for the best-kept Rosebank Road industrial premises and gardens, and it was always Reckitt and Colman who won first prize. Some beautiful trees, planted then, still green Rosebank Road at the former Reckitts site. Mr. Saunders, one of the company’s directors, had his name given to Saunders Reserve.

The walkway tells its own history with the tall pines and large bamboo a remnant of the shelterbelts when orchards and gardens covered the peninsula. North of Saunders Reserve to Timothy Place, the walkway originated when hundreds of loads of fill had been tipped into the mangroves as an illegal reclamation. Kurt Brehmer alerted the Auckland Regional Authority who ensured all the illegal fill was removed. Gorse and wattle then flourished, providing a habitat for the Painted Apple moth invader. Diggers removed the weeds, leaving behind the beginnings of a track. Auckland City Council’s Parks Mike Leaity took up the torch and generated council funds for the valuable new project, a community walkway.

The walkway was then tended for years by Friends of the Whau, of which Kurt was a life member.

Today the bush strip along the walkway is a vital link in the Northwest Wildlink project, providing a passage for birds from Tiritiri-Matangi across the city to the Waitakeres.

The last words should go to the late Kurt Brehmer: “The walkway is a very valuable asset to the Avondale environment and will be widely used by the public and the schools; there is so much to learn by walking and observing and comparing past events with present times.

“We trust the public will treasure it and care for it and remember those who made this walkway possible by their generosity. We must all help to make good things happen.”