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Heritage Region - 'The Denouement' 

Readers will recall the September visit to Wellington by Mayor Glenn Leach, accompanied as it turns out by unelected EDC Chair Brent Page, and Strategic Relations Manager Peter Wishart, who wrote the meeting notes on which this and the next two posts are based. They are quoted verbatim – no changes whatsoever, obtained legally, and no corrections provided. They can therefore be accepted as correct and fully reflective of what took place over the four meetings.

These were with the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry; the Tourism Association Chief Executive, Chris Roberts;  the Minister for treaty Negotiations – Chris Finlayson; and the acting Deputy Director of Conservation Carl McGuinness. Scott Simpson accompanied the party for each of these meetings.

Here is the report on the first of these with Maggie Barry.

“Meeting with the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry (Beehive, Thursday 17th September) In attendance: Minister Maggie Barry Mayor Glenn Leach, Brent Page (Chair, TCDC Economic Development Committee) Scott Simpson MP for Coromandel Department of Conservation staff: Carl McGuinness, Andrew?, Debbie? 

Mayor Glenn briefed the meeting on the outcome of the Council meeting of 23 September in regard to the Heritage Region concept for the Coromandel Peninsula noting that he did not want DoC to be dragged into the issue but he was seeking high-level contact with the Department.

The Minister acknowledged that the "starting gun" has gone off and noted the Landmarks Project (entities which tell our story) relating to nationally, regionally and locally significant buildings and precincts (including cycleways, walkways and war memorials) and the opportunity that is presented for TCDC to nominate key sites on the Peninsula. She also indicated that the IUCN classification should be parked. (hence the subsequent decision by Council to slelve it!)

Carl McG queried if the Heritage Region concept was the best vehicle to achieve the outcome sought.

Glenn noted the importance of the Heritage Region concept in the wider context of economic development for the Coromandel which extended beyond tourism and, as an example, included agriculture (dairying) and the production and branding of high value foodstuffs and services, and rural experiences that immediately spoke to the market and consumers of "the Coromandel".

The Minister then raised the recreational fishing component of the the Heritage Region proposal and suggested putting the issue of marine protected areas aside given the often contentious nature of implementing these at a local level.

She then referenced the Captain Cook Sestercentennial (250) year anniversary and associated events noting that Sir Michael Fay was the patron of the Mercury Bay Sestercentennial initiative. She opined that international interest would be very high.

A general discussion ensued noting in particular the opportunities offered by the Sestercentennial for the Coromandel such as the observation of the transit of Mercury and the first friendly encounter with tangata whenua (Ngati Hei) in Mercury Bay and Cook's jolly- boat excursion up the Waihou River. The educational opportunities on offer were highlighted.

The Minister then discussed Glenn's possible membership on a national organising committee noting that Mayor Meng Foon would be representing the Gisborne District Council and the Te Ha commemoration. Glenn's appointment was supported by Scott Simpson. Substantial funding is available (-$25 million?) to support the Sestercentennial celebrations. Te Ha have already made a bid and it is the Minister's expectation that the Mercury Bay Committee will soon do likewise.

Debby noted that DoC was trying to get the Marlborough Sestercentennial Committee up to speed on a par with the Te Ha organising committee.

The Minister indicated that Gemma White and Debby were to be the Department's points of contact for TCDC.

Mayor Glenn then complimented the Department on its involvement with the Cathedral Cove project and the Coromandel Great Walks. Discussion then focused on some of the detail around the parking and access issues associated with Cathedral Cove.

The Minister and Mayor then concluded the meeting with closing comments voicing a joint intention to work collaboratively on the projects discussed.”

The notes are really self-explanatory and reflect what we already knew about the Minister’s reaction to the Adam’s proposal, and its transition into a 'lead balloon.'

What is interesting is the invitation to join the Sestercentennial Organising Committee – particularly in view of Leach having already indicated his intention to step down at the end of this term. How could he possibly continue in the Committee role after October? – surely the new Mayor would take over the role. That is what you might think, but it is unlikely that he would relinquish this opportunity if he could possibly avoid it, and since it is a Ministerial appointment, he could probably retain the position (with Simpson’s support!) into the new (and subsequent!) terms.

Leach’s particular interest lies in his chairmanship of the proposed Coromandel Walkway Trust that is being proposed to take over the oversight of the development of the entire walkway network of which he has been the principle proponent. The $25m slush fund for the Sestercentennial is of course the major attraction, and he will be determined to get a slice of that for the extension of the tracks around the Peninsula by attaching them in any way he can to the 2018 celebration.

Don’t imagine for one moment that Mr Leach intends riding off into the sunset after October – no siree! He intends to be around directing touristee things for some time to come, regardless of who replaces him across Mackay St.

More later!


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