Betty Perkins was married to John Perkins and they brought up their family at the farm on State Highway 1 known as Middle Run. John’s mother was Dorothy Smith, who married Richard Perkins in 1932. Dorothy was the granddaughter of Francis Wilson Smith who was the main landowner and farmer in the Paekākāriki area around the 1860s.
The Perkins family was involved in virtually every club and sports group in the village and all their children attended Paekākāriki School. Betty and John were also involved in many different community organisations. Betty was a member of the Paekākāriki Community Board for many years and it was here that she regularly raised concerns about the condition of the “Sand Track” crossing, which members of her family and many others had to cross to get to school every day,
The original crossing prior to up-grading
The foot crossing would have been one of the most dangerous crossings in the country as there are two lines of track used for a busy suburban network and for freight trains travelling in both directions. At that time, there were no warning signs of any description and no pathway. Walkers had to step over the rail lines and the rough ballast underfoot. The crossing was more or less impassable for parents with prams.
Meetings were held with all stakeholders and it was agreed that the crossing needed to be up-graded. However, it was still to take several years for any action to be taken. A newly built crossing, which included safety fencing, signs and a fenced, gravelled pathway through the existing farm paddock, was opened by Betty in 2015. The need for this up-grade is even more necessary now given more frequent train movements, with passenger trains every 20 minutes in both directions.
Betty Perkins cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony in 2015.
The new and safer Betty Perkins Crossing