Coromandel Great Walks (1)
Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 12:42PM
Bill Barclay

I have endeavoured to remain as objective as possible in regard to the development of the  Coromandel Great Walks project. I went out of my way following the April meeting of the EDC at Whitianga to praise the obvious progress confidently reported to that meeting by staff. See for instance my 17 June post – “Great Walks – Great News.

But as is so often the case with this Council, all is not as it appears on first examination. The explanation for this lies in staff becoming involved under the Mayor’s direction in large scale projects with a mixture of objectives, and inadequate commercial nouse.

Because of inconsistencies in the report by Project Manager Gary Towler to Council on Wednesday, I have taken the trouble to closely question the Chairman of the Residents and Stakeholders Association.

Note the constant reference to the Hahei Stakeholders Group in the Report despite the fact that this Group has for some considerable time incorporated the Hahei Residents Association – in other words, they are one and the same, and Chairman Bill Stead speaks for both no matter what spin Towler puts on it.

This is important because of considerable obfuscation and contradictory information contained in the Report that I will endeavour to analyse in detail in my next post.

But firstly I have been informed for attribution in order to remove any confusion that the Hahei Walks Stakeholders Group was formed in December last year after the TCDC Public meeting in Hahei. Various Hahei residents responded to a TCDC request to express interest in joining the group. Garry Towler then selected people who he thought represented the Community. Bill Stead was made Chairman. He was concerned to subsequently discover that the main reason for creating the Group was so a letter could be obtained from the Hahei community to support the Lotteries Application.

However, some members of the group were uncomfortable about being TCDC selected members, and so some members stood for the Hahei Ratepayers Committee as this is a democratically elected local organisation. Bill was voted in as Chairman of Hahei Ratepayers and he quickly integrated both groups so that Hahei had one voice.

Unfortunately this is not recognised with the recently formed Governance Directors incorporating two Council representatives - Leach & Brent Page (unelected chairman of EDC), one Doc Representative - Gemma White, and one Ngati Hei - Peter Matai Johnston. In other words, the local residents most affected have observer status only - hardly democratic, and likely to always remain a bone of contention.  Note that the accompanying Strcture Plan show Leach & Page with only vote - I wonder who will exercise it! Parhaps it is really half a vote each, or that one is more equal than the other - very puzzling!

They now have one group of about 20 people representing the ~700 residents and ratepayers of Hahei that has monthly meetings on a structured basis, keeping minutes etc. as any normal association would do. Importantly, they have neighbourhood meetings to make sure that they truly reflect the views of the people of Hahei. All information about the  integrated organisation is published on the HBRPA website.

Bill points out that Hahei is defined as stretching from the northern end of Hot Water Beach to the Purangi Estuary. He notes the tendency of TCDC to refer to the Stakeholders Group as if to distinguish it from the Residents and Ratepayers when indeed they are one and the same, and to divide the Group into Hahei and Lees Rd, when they are working together as one. This tactic in not unknown in Local Government, and needs to be exposed.

Now to the Report – see next post!


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