Sugarloaf Agreement
Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 5:18PM
Bill Barclay

A late afternoon presser announces the signing of the new Agreement with Gilbert James of the CMFA.

The whole drama surrounding the planning for Coromandel Harbour presaged by the expansion of the Sugar Loaf facility at Te Kouma to accommodate the increased needs of the mussel farming industry while allowing the continued use of the facility by recreational fishers is summarised in this less than overwhelming presser. The latter is required because it is a Council owned facility on Crown Land (?) to which the farmers had no particular priority.

It seemed to take years for this Council to come to terms with the particular circumstances surrounding this facility, and just how its development was to be accommodated within the overall plans for the development of the harbour. The expressions grandiose, ignorant, speculative and contradictory are not ill-used when considering what has taken place over the last six years.

Assumptions were made regarding the willingness of farmers to fund any part of the expansion, and likewise the willingness of Te Kouma residents to agree to expansion that compromised their lifestyle, and living conditions.

It was always a recipe for disaster as Council staff and elected representatives blundered through these separate interests while attempting to devise a plan that would be acceptable to all, and at the same time allow for ferry requirements, and the provision of new launching/ marina/fuelling  requirements somewhere else in the Harbour – initially at Furey’s Creek, and more recently the grandiose ‘Inner Harbour’ concept that appeared to involve the provision or large lumps of Council funding in some kind of private/public project costing over $60m north of the Coromandel wharf.  

Leach has appeared at all times to have major and mixed motives for having this whole project under way before his departure from office, and manoeuvred Hammond into a project management role when it appeared too big for Hampton. It has not helped to have Hammond resign, but he must have realised that the whole deal was fraught with too much difficulty even for him to handle, and was going nowhere in attracting outside interest that was required to get it off the ground – a repeat of the failure to attract any interest in the fanciful aquaculture project.

Meanwhile new personnel continue to play musical chairs with the various roles culminating in the not very hopeful statement:

“The Project Team will continue working with the Coromandel Stakeholders Working Group for updates and to get feedback on the Sugarloaf Wharf project and the Inner Harbour Project.”

The questions that must now be asked include:

  1.  Who is to own the new extended wharf currently owned by Council?
  2. Who will project manage the development? (recent experience with the Dry Court in Thames will surely be causing concern regard letting this out of Council hands when the chips are down)
  3. The presser indicates “internal capital raising” as the source of funding, and rather hopefully “potential central government initiatives” (the former has been rejected by members in the past, and I rather suspect that the latter is tied to aquaculture development that is simply is not going to happen)
  4. Are we to assume that the new extensions to be funded by Council loans to the Association? (there is next to no chance that existing farmer members of the Association will put their hands in their pockets)
  5. How will land ownership with iwi be resolved? (this is all tied up with the Hauraki Settlement, and a real reluctance by its members to commit any land deemed to be within their purview to any project – a situation unlikely to change anytime soon regardless of the timing of the Settlement) 
  6. What is the formula to be used in regard to the shared occupancy with recreational users? (this is important because it vary over time, is a constant irritant to commercial users. Until the financials surrounding this aspect are determined, it remains a major risk to rate-payers, and requires justification based on existing boat launching policies)
  7. What accommodation has been reached with Te Kouma residents to forestall long threatened action through the Environment Court to block further development? (silence from that direction does not denote aquiescence)
  8. Is Leach is smiling through gritted teeth, and James signing on the dotted line under duress?

Gilbert James describes the MOU as “hopefully clarifying and recording the relationship between CMFA and the Council and who will do what.” That is yet to be seen. Occupancy rights remain to be determined along with the shared costs, and the conditions of a lease that records the interest yet to be granted by the Cown with “due consideration of iwi interests.” Ben Day gets his oar into the presser by adding the need to “resolve title for reclaimed land.” That will be interesting given iwi interest in the foreshore and seabed.

It has taken years now to get to this point, and yet we are expected to cheer Leach and his cohort for having made significant progress.

Rubbish – it is more like a lifeless, if not dead duck, and not much to show for all the hullaballoo we have heard over the years. 



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