Hei Hei hikers celebrate

ARIELLE MONK
Last updated 11:39 16/01/2014
Hei hei walkers
Arielle Monk

WALK ON: Ann Harvey, her granddaughter Vanessa Harvey, 13, Yvonne Fair and Neta Wederell celebrate 15 years of pounding Hei Hei pavements together.

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A dodgy neighbourhood, earthquakes and factional tiffs couldn't keep a group of Hei Hei women from putting their walking shoes on again and marching into their 15th year together this week.

Walking group veteran Neta Wederell got the crew up and running back in 1999 to create something positive in the area.

"This community was so run down. There were lots of drug and alcohol issues - we were having murders here and all sorts.

"We started off with nine people. It just took off from there, " she said.

She celebrated the anniversary with the rest of her group on Monday at the Groynes in Belfast, making use of the free barbecue area with a picnic and - of course - a walk through the park.

Until recently, there were more than 20 walkers, but due to some personal disagreements over finances, the group split.

Despite the setback, group member Ann Harvey says walking every Wednesday has huge value for her.

"It's about friendship, really. It's something positive to do and it's low cost.

"We even get a lot of grandkids coming along. Vanessa is from Oamaru and she's on school holidays at the moment, but she loves coming along with us."

What's more, they do more than just walk around the western city suburbs.

"Every six weeks, we walk down to the Gilberthorpe Rd Baptist Church and get our nails done for a gold coin donation. That's a lot of fun, " Harvey said.

On the last Wednesday of every month, they head out of Hei Hei for a change of scenery - to places such as Lyttleton or Rangiora - and stop for a spot of lunch together after walking.

Wederell gets the walkers together for an hour every Wednesday at 9.30am, rain or shine, and through holidays.

"We don't stop over the Christmas period. I believe that's when people need it most. Christmas can be a long time when you don't have family around, " she said.

"The rewards that I've had from it are just mighty."

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