But five weeks ago Mark Kent left his role as Exhibition Touring and Project Manager after 21 years at Te Papa to become Mākara Peak’s first-ever dedicated Park Ranger – and he’s loving it.
“This new position has been years in the planning, with the role created to support the community, especially the Mākara Peak Supporters who are particularly active in the park.”
Mark will help maintain the trails, facilitate conservation activities, engage with the local communities and stakeholders and be the liaison between them and Council.
Previously private farmland, the area was purchased by Wellington City Council in 1998 and following a public consultation on how the maunga (peak) could be used, it was turned into a mountain bike park.
“Back then mountain biking was still quite fringe but growing,” says Mark, father-of-two daughters. “Fast-forward the clock 20 years and it’s like the new golf or skiing.”
Mākara Peak Supporters, formed in 1998, is a volunteer organisation made up of keen mountain bikers, runners, walkers and residents with a passion for the area. Mark has been involved with the group since almost the beginning.
“I got involved in 2000. I went to help dig and build trails and plant trees. I helped put some of the trees in 18 years ago. I went back to those sites recently and it was really cool to reconnect with the totara and rimu.
“I was also on the Mākara Peak Supporters committee, and headed the supporters tracks team, helping to design tracks and organise volunteer work parties to help build awesome single track.
“A lot of what has been achieved in the park has come down to that strong supporting partnership with the Makara peak supporters and Council, who have given us incredible support over the years to develop the trail network.
“Heaps of us have had kids and the exciting thing is now our kids are riding in the park, enjoying the work we put in all those years ago.”