TrustPower National Community Awards 2010 Supreme WinnerTrustPower National Community Awards 2010

Supreme Winner: The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust, Far North District

Volunteers are the backbone behind every New Zealand community, dedicating more than 270 million unpaid hours every year for non-profit organisations up and down the country.  Trustpower understands that, which is why we celebrate and reward volunteers through our Trustpower Community Awards programme.

In 2010 The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust was the Supreme Winner of the TrustPower National Community Awards. The following text is taken directly from the TrustPower website.

The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust has restored and operates a vintage steam railway experience between Kawakawa and Opua. When the Trust inherited this historic railway it was in complete disrepair, closed by the LTSA in 2000 due to its unsafe state.
The Trust was driven by the imperative to ensure that an iconic part of New Zealand’s history and culture was not lost.  The railway dates from the discovery of coal in Kawakawa in 1864, and it was the first passenger train in the North Island.  The longest of 14 bridges is 270 metres with 34 piers and, when restored, will be the oldest curved wooden bridge in the world.  The steam engine Gabriel is the only one of its class left in the world from the five originally built in 1927.  The railway also runs down the middle of the main street in Kawakawa, which is a state highway – totally unique!

Yet all this was set to be lost to the nation until the Trust was formed with the determination to restore the full 13 km between Kawakawa and Opua, not only to ensure this precious historic heritage and unique railway was saved, but also to generate economic and social value to the wider community.

Over the last eight years the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust have raised $1.6 million dollars and now run a popular service four times a day, at weekends and school holidays.  To make this happen has been a team of over 400 volunteers every year, putting in a staggering 105,034 hours over the eight years since the Trust was formed.

The restoration of the railway has revived business in the once struggling town of Kawakawa and has brought the community together.  A survey of 250 people in November 2010 shows that 76% thought the railway was very important to the Kawakawa economy, 74% had up to 30% of the business directly from the train users and 21% of the business are directly impacted by the train’s operations.

The read this article on the TrustPower website and to find out more about the Trustpower Community Awards programme please click here.