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By SHELLEY TOPP

A large crowd turned out for the official opening of the Passchendaele Memorial Path in Kaiapoi last Saturday, including Oscar the orangutan.

The small soft toy, owned by Rangiora’s Ashgrove School, was on a weekend journey with young cyclist Anya Churchill, aged 5, a new entrant at the school, and her mum, Emma Churchill, of Rangiora. Oscar belongs to Anya’s class at Ashgrove School, Pihinga four, and every weekend one of the children in the class is asked to take Oscar home with them and report back to classmates about the adventures they had with him.

The Passchendaele Memorial Path, a sealed cycle and walkway between Rangiora and Kaiapoi, was opened by Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers and Jim Harland, the New Zealand Transport Agency’s regional relationships South Island director. They were the first to set out on the new path after it was officially opened.

The path was named in memory of the soldiers who died during World War 1 in the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

Fun with mum… Juliet Calder with her daughter, Elsie, aged 5, from Christchurch, try the new Passchendaele Memorial Path.

Waimakariri has a twin relationship with the Belgian municipality of Zonnebeke, which includes the Passchendaele battlefield.

The new memorial path begins at the Mafeking Footbridge, near Smith St, Kaiapoi, and follows the Kaiapoi River stopbank before passing beneath the rail bridge, then continuing alongside Lineside Road on the western side of the railway line before connecting to the existing pathway through Southbrook to Rangiora.

The path is part of the New Zealand Government Urban Cycleways Programme and was established by the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Waimakariri District Council.

The Woodend-Rangiora Cycle Path is under construction.

It is due to open in late April.