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Hahei "Great Walk" Concerns Articulated 

Right - Back on the Job - Comments on Oz Later

First up - a Report from the Hahei Ratepayers / Walk Stakeholders Group promulgated by the newly elected Hahei Beach Ratepayers Association Inc. chaired by Bill Stead.  

This is interesting because it appears to contradict most of the "she'll be right" report presented to the last meeting of the Economic Development Committee, and on which recommendations were made to the 13 May Meeting of Council. 

The EDC Report gave a very favourable view of the manner in which the proposals were received in the various consultations around Hahei, but this report gives a quite different view, and must raise serious concerns regarding the future of the project in its current form. Here are the key points as summarised by the HBRA:

• No Walks until parking and traffic congestion in Hahei is fixed 

• Possibly postpone the construction of a Pay and Display car park at Pa Rd sewage treatment plant while we look  at alternatives options. TCDC has wisely hired a traffic management expert and we would like to study the report before making a decision on the Pa Rd Car Park. 

• Oppose the Lees Rd "footpath" and the return walk along Carter's northern boundary. The walk will never be a "Great Walk" and the return section will create parking congestion on Lees Rd. 

 • Oppose any one-way walks south of Hahei, including the Blowhole Walk, until a complete walk from Hahei to Hot Water Beach is possible 

 • Support the investigation of a Coastal Walk from Cathedral Cove to Purangi. This could be a Great Walk 

 • Support the development of Walks north from Whitianga 

The EDC Report indicated far greater progress had been made - principally in a meeting at the Castle on or about 17 April at which representatives of all interested parties were said to have been present - the description was indeed "great progress has been made!"

But the information above was contained in Hahei News - emailed on 28 May. Now I don't wish to appear negative - I was after all admiring of the progress reported at the time, but it seems that the EDC Committee Report may have  been a little premature. I certainly detected no opposition to the Lees Road proposal, nor "no walks until traffic congestion at Hahei is fixed" at that meeting, let alone the opposition to the Pah Road Car Park "while alternatives are examined."

The Ratepayers Association now has new officers that may represent a more hard-line view of the matter than has been expressed in the past, and the Lottery Board is intensely concerned at any local dissent of this nature. One can imagine substantial effort being made to keep the content of this HBRA Hahei News Report as far as possible from that funding agency before its June Allocations are announced.  

What is evident is that this is a relatively wealthy coastal community that clearly feels threatened by the influx of tourists, and their vehicles. They have the resources to successfully oppose any Council plans that they consider may interrupt their way of life, their investments or facilities. They will oppose Leach, no matter what support he believes he may have gleaned through his favouring of certain wealthy friends on the periphery of the community, particularly if they feel that they have been led astray through his public pronouncements both at meetings and through the media. 

Some severe re-thinking may be required in order to overcome growing concerns about this Great Walks idea that is so much a plank of Leach's Legacy - probably the only one that has not appeared shaky over recent months.  What he must surely understand is that opposition of this nature often takes time to develop, and his tendency to 'ride-roughshod' can be counter-productive in these circumstances.

Back to the drawing-board boys'!




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