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Thursday
Dec102015

Great Walks

Reihana Robinson came to Public Forum at today's Council to lay out a few home truths about the situation at Hahei vis-a-vis the Great Walks. With a long-standing family connection with the area, and grave concerns regarding our Council's ambitious plans to develop Great Walks starting with the Hahei to Whitianga section, later to be extended to Hot Water Beach, and Heaven knows where else as Glenn Leach's visionary concept gains traction elsewhere in the District.

This is all very well, and the Governance structure decided on yesterday has decided advantages over that which was originally proposed. TCDC will now have two representatives, including the unelected Brent Page, but only one vote - amongst three - the other two being the local iwi, and DoC representatives. Neither Brent nor Glenn were able to explain what would happen in the event that they were unable to agree on a position - I guess that the elected person will have the upper hand, but who knows?

At least the TCDC dominance has been removed with the change, but the idea of having a Hahei Residents & Stakeholders representative on the Governance Board with a vote was resisted - even sabotaged by Board Chair Paul Kelly. who tried to imply that the Bill Stead and others on the Residents group were un-representative, unelected, and indeed opposed by many in the community.

Reihana stated categorically that she had been authorised by Residents Chair - Bill Stead, to speak on his behalf. Kelly disputed that later in the day when the matter was discussed in Council, and claimed to be the only person who legitimately represent the views of Hahei community. I would certainly dispute this based on the discussions that I have had with Hahei representatives, but Kelly's views prevailed.

The problem is that Council as a whole fails to understand the full ramifications of the current track plans as they relate to Hahei. Hahei is at the very centre of the whole plan, principally because of its proximity to Cathedral Cove which is the prime tourist target. This may change over time, but the evidence appears to indicate that it will remain at the very centre of tourism attracted to the East Coast, along with Hot Water Beach. This may change as walkers change the balance, but there is no hard evidence of this happening.

This situation may indeed be unique as far as the HWB to Whitianga track is concerned - all within the Ngati Hei rohe, and therefore appropriate for a particular governance structure that need not be replicated elsewhere. Because of the particular central role of Hahei and its population in the overall scheme of things, it should not be beyond the wit of those who are devising the structure(s) to make an exception in regard to this particular walk. This should allow for more particular involvement by creating a voting membership on the governance model.

Kelly simply does not cut the mustard, and he does not have a vote. Further, the justification for the presence of Brent Page as a 'half voter' certainly needs to be called into question. He begins to look more and more uncomfortable in his role, with good reason. Goudie alone expressed her opposition to the role he was playing - that reflects her now well known contempt for the Economic Development Committee - it will be gone by lunchtime if she gets elected - a more and more likely outcome in my opinion.

In the meantime, Council has brought forward and allocated $304k for the preliminary work to be done on Lees Road, and the car-park proposal. But it does not appear that anything can actually commence until the January traffic report has been completed, and Hahei and Lees Road residents further consulted about the parking and traffic arrangements.

This issue has by no means been 'put to bed,' despite the speed with which the communications people put out the presser after yesterday's meeting.  

 

 

 

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