Edgecumbe is to host the start line for Oxfam Trailwalker 2019 – part of the annual course ‘refresh’ process for the 100-kilometre the event, which was first held in Whakatāne in 2016.

To be held on 23-24 March, Oxfam Trailwalker attracts teams from around New Zealand, plus some international teams, to take part in the 100-kilometre or 50-kilometre walk events and raise funds to support Oxfam New Zealand’s work to fight poverty in the Pacific.

Oxfam New Zealand Events Operations Coordinator Kara Reid said that while it was timely to refresh the course, there was also a significant link between what Edgecumbe had been through and the work of Oxfam New Zealand.

“The flooding of Edgecumbe in April 2017 damaged houses, livelihoods and community spirit. Oxfam New Zealand works in the Pacific and South East Asia, supporting people who have been affected by similar natural disasters, such as floods, tsunamis or cyclones.

“Starting the event in Edgecumbe in 2019 is the perfect way for both Oxfam New Zealand and Edgecumbe to support each other in heightening awareness of the effects of climate change, and raising vital funds for communities in the Pacific and South East Asia which, like Edgecumbe, rely on support from those who can help in times of need.”

Rangitaiki Community Board Chairperson Charelle Stevenson said the inclusion of Edgecumbe in the new Trailwalker course will provide a boost for the community.

“The Edgecumbe community is super-excited to be hosting the Oxfam Trailwalker start. We’re trying to make progress, post-flood, and hosting an event of this importance helps us to focus on the future and gives our community something positive to be part of.

“I am extremely grateful to the organisers for including us in this prestigious event. It will give our community a real boost and encouragement that, although we have been through tough times, the future looks bright,” she said.

Another new addition to the Trailwalker course in 2019 is a checkpoint at Ngāi Taiwhakaea’s Te Pāroa Marae at Coastlands. Competitors will arrive at Te Paroa after walking through Edgecumbe township, down the Rangitāiki Riverbank and along the Thornton coastline towards Whakatāne.

Entries are open for teams of four to compete in the 100-kilometre or 50-kilometre walk. For more information and to register, visit www.oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz