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Great Walks - Great Dissent!

If the Mayor, and his compliant staff thought for one moment that they would be able to keep a lid on the Hahei dissent in relation the their grand Great Walks proposals, they have another think coming.

The opposing forces in Hahei have taken time to gather, but there is now no doubt as to their determination to get answers, and iron-clad assurances before they will agree to accede to the 'snow-job' that has been the hallmark of the manner in which the plans have been implemented to date.

What the members of the Hahei Ratepayers and Stakeholders Group may not understand is that what has happened at Hahaei is simply a reflection of the manner in which Leach has run this Council from the outset - "my way or the highway' is the predominant feature of his methodology, and the fact that they have been unable to get responses, let alone answers to their questions simply reflects the prevailing view of staff that they can do whatever they like because they have Leach's support. Oh well, only another 12 months to go, but don't expect any change in approach in the meantime.

What has happened is that it has suddenly dawned on Leach and staff that they can no longer ignore the opposition - they have to deal with it if they are to progress the matter at any level. Hence the calling of a meeting with the Residents and Stakeholders on 27 August.

I have been provided with a copy of the letter from the Group (signed by Bill Stead and John North - Chair and Deputy Chair), that outlines in precise terms the position of the Group - far different as it turns out than has been reflected in any of the profound spin contained in recent pressers on the matter from the Council.The views expressed reflect the total frustration of the Group in its inability to obtain any acknowledgment of its concerns, or willingness to alter any of the plans that Project Executive have been determined to execute regardless of the concerns of residents as expressed through the Residents and Stakeholders Group. 

Whether these concerns can be resolved in any way satisfactory to the R & S members will no doubt emerge following the meeting on 27 August, but whatever is decided, it is highly unlikely that the Council's plans can now be implemented in the manner it alone had devised.

The letter from the R & S Group is extremely detailed, and will no doubt have resulted in shock-waves around the Castle sufficient to shake the complacency of the Executive Group. Because of its length, I will not post the letter here, but will attach it as a 'comment' for those who are interested. I will not include the attachments, of which there are many  that go to very heart of the matter, and that date from the outset.

Our Mayor and Council would do extremely well to listen carefully to these views, and be prepared to make major alterations to their forward plans for the Project. It is not a done deal even though the livelihood of certain staff members would appear dependent on it proceeding in its present form.




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Reader Comments (5)

Coromandel Great Walks Governance Directors Thames Coromandel District Council
515 Mackay Street, Thames

Subject: Proposed Cathedral Coast Walkway
Coromandel Great Walks Governance Board Meeting Hahei Stakeholders Position

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for inviting us to attend a meeting of the Coromandel Great Walks Governance Board on August 27, 2015. Since this is our first meeting, we felt would be useful to set out our position on a number of matters relating to the proposed Cathedral Coast Walk (the ”Walk) so that the Board could address our issues properly at the meeting.

1. Background
For some time, tourist walks in the Coromandel has been promoted by the Mayor and others. Conceptually, the people of Hahei support the concept of world class walks and so we were all interested to hear exactly what was proposed for Hahei when Garry Towler and his colleagues gave a presentation to the people of Hahei on 29 November 2014. However when people at the meeting understood what was proposed, most were opposed as they felt that that scarce Council money should first be spent improving parking and other infrastructure in Hahei before new attractions were built in our area..
Following the meeting, the Hahei Stakeholders Group was formed. The first action of the Group was to seek the views of the more than 700 Hahei residents and ratepayers as was we felt that for the Stakeholders Group to have any credibility, we should truly understand the views of our people. So in January 2015, we conducted a survey and found that most did not want a new walk built until local parking and other congestion related matters were dealt with. Attached is a copy of the results of the survey.
In spite of the views of the people of Hahei, TCDC proceeded with a Lotteries Commission funding application. Reluctantly, we provided a letter offering conditional support– see attached copy.
Following the publication of various upbeat press releases by TCDC, confidently stating the Walk was proceeding quickly, we issued a position paper setting out our concerns about the proposed Walk as these appeared to have been ignored by TCDC. See attached copy.
Apart from a commitment to prepare a traffic study, to date we have had no responses to any of our concerns. On the contrary, TCDC has proceeded to develop the proposed Walk

and seek additional funding, in spite of the fact that the local community is opposed to the proposed Walk. This has been very disappointing.
We would like to quote from the introduction to TCDC 2012 – 2022 Ten Year Plan
“A priority of this Council is to ensure greater engagement of local communities in decision making. In April 2012 we adopted a Community Empowerment framework and over the course of the next year we will be making some changes to align the organisation better to that framework. The strategy brings decision-making on local services, facilities and assets closer to local communities, and empowers growth strategies to be developed and quickly implemented in our Peninsula's growth hubs”
We strongly support this strategy, but in the case of the proposed Cathedral Coast Walk, you have wilfully ignored your own policies.

If the proposed Walk is to succeed, you must adopt a completely different approach and engage with the local community honestly and sincerely.

Specifically, we would like the following

• Public Community Meeting – Once there is more definition of the proposed Walk, we would like all Governance Board Directors to come to a public community meeting in Hahei where each Director explain, as a minimum
o Their position on Walk,
o Benefits to the people of Hahei,
o Mitigation strategies to deal with any local concerns, and
o How they plan to manage the Walk in the long term.

We suggest the meeting take place at Labour Weekend, when more non-permanent residents are more likely to attend

• Realistic Accurate Publicity – Ever since the Walk was conceived, there has been a constant stream of unrealistic, inaccurate publicity issued by TCDC, generally ignoring or worse, contradicting the wishes of the local Hahei Community A good example is the recent article in Wilderness Magazine in which Garry Towler claims that visitors to Cathedral Cove do not have a quality experience and promotes the construction of the Blowhole walk with the building the castle of Cair Paravel at the Blowhole. See attached copy. Since Garry Towler is an officer of TCDC, we assume it is TCDC’s views he is promoting, again ignoring the wishes of the Hahei Community.

In future, we would like any statement concerning the Walk to be approved by all organisations i.e. TCDC, DoC and Ngati Hei. Our community will then know that what they are reading in the press is accurate and is supported by all participants in the Walk.

We hope the Governance Directors will follow your own guidelines, listen to the Hahei Community, and implement our very reasonable wishes.

2. Issues to be addressed at Meeting August 27 2015.
At the meeting on August 27, 2015, we would like following matters addressed.
2.1. No Walk Construction before Hahei Community Plan is updated and Hahei Infrastructure built
Please confirm that you will not undertake any significant construction work on the Walk until Hahei residents have competed the updating of the Hahei Community plan and TCDC has

built new parking and other traffic management facilities specified in the Community plan or other relevant documents, such as the recently commissioned traffic study. This requirement as stated a condition of our support of the Walk in our letter that you sent to the Lotteries Commission. Should you fail to comply with this condition, we shall inform the Lotteries Commission of your non-compliance.
2.2. Walk Route
We have clearly stated our position on the Walk route – the only acceptable route is one around the coast from Cathedral Cove to Purangi. Yet minutes of your last meeting suggest you are considering implementing a number of routes which we have specifically rejected i.e. a walk to the Blowhole and a footpath alongside Lees Road. Please explain why you have chosen to ignore the Communities wishes.
2.3. Walking Routes, Parking and Transportation
Please elaborate as to whether the Walk is a continuous walk or a number of walk options— by distance, average walk time, start and finish points. Also identify where the vehicles associated for each section will park. Are shuttle buses required for any of the walk options?
2.4. Destination Coromandel / Department of Conservation.
A key focus of Destination Coromandel is to reduce peak visitor numbers and increase visitor numbers during the off peak (shoulder season.)
The Coromandel Great Walk is forecast to increase visitor numbers by 160,000pa within 3 years of operation (Miles Davis Report). Inevitably the increased numbers will follow the same seasonal trend.
What strategy is proposed by the Governance Body to ensure that the Coromandel Great Walk will comply with the Coromandel Tourism Objective of spreading tourist numbers more evenly throughout the year?
The Department Of Conservation indicate that visitor numbers to Cathedral Cove will increase by 14% pa. How will this be mitigated?
2.5. Traffic Management Plan
We will not be in a position to comment on this at the meeting as we have not received a copy. Our understanding was that as a Key Stakeholder we would receive copies of the Report and then participate in a Workshop presentation to the Hahei Stakeholders Group. Once we receive a copy, it will be reviewed by a Hahei resident who is a traffic management expert and our views delivered to TCDC.
2.6. Programme
There have been several press releases indicating the Walk was proceeding with various start and end dates. At your last meeting, there was a presentation with various stages described, but no definition of each stage. Please provide an implementation programme bar chart or network diagram showing the proposed implementation plan and identify all hold points/consultation period. Please provide this as MS Project document so review it efficiently.
2.7. Cost Control and Project Management
Please provide a detailed construction cost budget and explain who is responsible for the cost control? How will the project construction be managed? What happens if there are cost overruns? Are any cost overruns shared amongst TCDC, DoC and IWI?
2.8. Overall Legal Structure
Please explain legal ownership structure of the Walk. For instance, will DoC or TCDC own the Walk of will it be split?

2.9. Long Term Operations
To date, there has been much discussion about Walk routes but, as we have seen in Hauraki Rail Trail, the long term operations and maintenance of the Walk must be carefully considered. As residents, we would like you to address the following
• Who will operate and maintain the Walk?
• If there is an accident or safety incident, who is responsible – the owner or the operator?
• If DoC is going to have a role in the long term operations, we would like to see a serious commitment and appropriate budget to turn the area into a truly beautiful attraction for visitors. For instance, noxious plants, both at Cathedral Cove and on the Walk should be removed and an aggressive native planting programme implemented. Ideally, we would like to see the Cathedral Cove area turned into a pest free zone or at least implement a program to eliminate possums, stoats and rats etc.
• How can we be sure the Walk will not create additional cost to TCDC ratepayers such as has occurred in the case in Hauraki Rail Trail?
2.10. Long Term Role of Stakeholders Group
The Draft Stakeholders Terms of Reference states that the group will disband once the project is completed, estimated to December 2016. We strongly disagree with this and believe the Group should continue to oversee the operation of Walk indefinitely. For this reason, we would like to understand your long term plan for the Walk.
2.11. Health and Safety
Please provide a copy of your Health and Safety Plan both for construction and operations. Hahei has a number of St John’s volunteers and they would like to review the project risks to make sure they will be able take care of any accidents on the Walk.

3. Draft Terms of Reference for Stakeholder Group
We reviewed this document and strongly recommend it is given to TCDC legal department for review as currently it is so vague and poorly written, that it is unworkable. As a minimum it should include a names of the Parties to the Agreement, provide some clear definition of the terms used, appropriate indemnification clauses, etc.
In the meantime, we would like to following concepts incorporated in the next draft.
3.1. Organisation Structure and reporting
The Stakeholders group is a policy making group and should therefore report directly to the Governance Directors, not the Project Manager or the Project Executive who are operations staff.
3.2. Obligation to Acknowledge Advice from Stakeholders
There should be a requirement for Stakeholders suggestions to be submitted in writing and for the Governance Board to acknowledge receipt, then either accept the suggestion or reject it. If the suggestion is rejected, a written explanation should be provided. We think this is very important as to do date, we have made numerous suggestions, many in writing, but most have been ignored.

3.3. Obligation to Represent Organisation Positions not Individuals Views
Each delegate must undertake to ensure that any views they express have the support of the organisations they represent. If appropriate, they should be prepared to deliver the Governance Director meetings copies of minutes of meetings of their organisation, demonstrating support for the views they express at any meeting.
3.4. Conflict Resolution
We totally reject that the concept that the Project Executive shall be empowered to resolve disputes. The current Project Executive clearly not an impartial party, as demonstrated by the recent Wilderness Magazine report and so we have no confidence in his ability to rule on any disputes. There should be an objective dispute resolution procedure where matters that cannot be resolved at the project level are referred to the ultimate Boards of each organisation i.e. TCDC Council, DoC CEO and IWI leadership.
We look forward to meeting with you on August 27.

Yours faithfully

John North
Deputy Chairman of Hahei Ratepayers and Walkway Stakeholders Group

William J Stead
Chairman of Hahei Ratepayers and Walkway Stakeholders Group

August 28, 2015 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Well suck on that TCDC-
Whew a track more popular than the Milford walk-- my that is something-- 440 per day every day -- a good Tui ad subject.
Love the concept of a truely coastal walk-- but not some stroll along a footpath [Lee's Road]-- imagine over 400 people wanting to cross Purangi estuary-- need one or two kayaks for that!.
The targeted Economic Developement rate is being squandered by Deputy CEO Day and et al -- with no recourse back to the people most affected, let alone the ratepayers who are being rated off the Peninsula.
Roll on 2016 -- bearing in mind the current deputies mayors pledge to finish the 'great works' of the current Mayor

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRed Alert

Bloody Nora, the "my way or the highway" approach - whos taking that approach, TCDC or Hahei Ratepayers?? We are in for some entertainment in coming weeks aren't we? I'm guessing that since Lotteries have given money for a detailed proposal, that if this is not enacted in the next 11-12 months exactly as described the money will have to go back to Lotteries - and that will be a disaster for all parties, incuding the poor old ratepayer..

August 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSailing Away

Beautifully put Bill.

The frustration of the Hahei Residents and the ratepayers and stakeholder group representing them is understandable. The village is inundated with visitors and day trippers in the summer, locals put up with it because they choose to live in that beautiful spot, and some make a living from the tourist trade, but the majority don't. Over the past 5 years the visitor numbers have grown exponentially and the traffic/parking problems are atrocious.
This isn't news to Council, but something they've ignored. By progressing full throttle with another tourist attraction in a place unsuited for it, Council are riding roughshod over not just the wishes of the ratepayers but over any form of common sense, it's setting itself up to be on par with the Whitianga Sports complex as a monument of poor planning.

August 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHip-op

Well done Hahei, there is lots of support for what you are doing. The door is only open if the person standing in the office is willing to agree with the person behind the desk. Too many projects raced in to without enough thought or consideration for those left with the debt. Sports Field spin continues. If that brown grass is good enough to play a winter sport on then where are the players?? I am sure without your efforts we will all be seeing the same spin on the Great Walk, We are tired of the superlatives...."Worlds .Greatest, Best, Iconic," remember?? these same words were used to cover the Sports Complex, Composting machine, Waste Water (world leading that one!) and the irrigation.

August 29, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterfantail

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