Iwi protest action over $4.5m lake walkway

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(Daily Post: Greg Taipari) A $4.5 million walking track at Lake Tarawera has angered a group of local land owners.

Rotorua man Metcalf Hawe is threatening court and protest action if the Tarawera Trail goes ahead. The trail has been planned for several years and is a joint venture between the Department of Conservation and local iwi, Tuhourangi. But DOC and a Tuhourangi spokesman say the trail has been driven by Maori and although they are not going to please everyone, they have consulted locals. A certificate of compliance was issued by the Rotorua District Council in January, allowing work on the trail to begin next month. .

TaraweraWalkwayFDOC staff will start building stage one of the track, from Rapatu Bay/Hot Water Beach to Oneroa and the remainder of the track from Te Wairoa Valley near the Buried Village to Te Ariki, at a cost of $1.6 million. It is expected the total cost of the project will be about $4.5 million.

Mr Hawe said he was concerned about the environmental impact a track would have on the area.

“This place is fragile enough as it is. It has taken 130 years for it to come back to how it is. We also have a lot of wahi tapu [cemetery] mass graves in the area.

I wouldn’t walk along that area. The ones who do go, know that area and they come from the local marae here.”

Mr Hawe said if the trail went ahead he was prepared to protest and seek a court injunction to try to stop it. The Tuhourangi descendant said he was constantly having to clean up rubbish left by tourists who visited Lake Tarawera.

“You only have to look along the lakefront and see broken glass and rubbish from people who visit here.

“Imagine the mess we will have along this track.” The trail is part of a wider concept to build a network of tracks that could potentially link other scenic locations such as lakes Rotorua, Tikitapu (Blue Lake), Rotokakahi (Green Lake), Okareka, Rotomahana and Okataina.

The trail is a partnership between DOC and several Maori land-owning trusts that border Lake Tarawera and Te Wairoa Valley. The trail will eventually provide a 42km multi-day trek around Lake Tarawera. Mr Hawe said he was concerned with how DOC and the trusts were consulting the iwi.

“We need to have full, robust consultation with all the tribes, not just a half a dozen people and say they have talked to the tribes. We want the tribe to be absolutely informed what DOC and these trusts are doing.

“They [DOC] should stick to looking after birds and little plants, not putting goat tracks on Maori land.”

Landing Cafe owner Tangi Vautiera is another local who is angry about the track.

I have travelled around the world and this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen,” she said. “I don’t see how having a track here will add to the beauty of the place.”

Tarawera Trail Trust spokesman Tawhiri Morehu said there was no threat of the track going across wahi tapu sites.

“The idea is to dodge any wahi tapu sites,” he said. “Now if they do come across any, they divert the trail, that is part of the agreement with DOC.”

DOC Rotorua Lakes area manager Nicki Douglas said the trail was an initiative driven by land owners and tangata whenua and was supported by the department.

|Source: Daily Post|

3 COMMENTS

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  2. Yes. I agree with you in this one, as many others are. Many people within the tribes concerned are against the proposed Tarawera Trail. If my father and uncle and grandmother were still alive I truly believe they would also oppose this so called trail. If it starts here where will it end? This cannot go about! With the digging of tracks, building of bridges and so forth the environmental assesment report would be quite interesting reading indeed, not to mention the indentification of all wahi tapu within the area. Too many loop holes and strings attached for my liking. It will get to the point where my children will say 'OUR ANCESTORS ONCE OWNED THIS LAND'…

  3. A Tribal referendum on this trail around lake a tarawera is definitely the only way to go. There has never been absolute discussions about this trail trust chairmans on the various blocks have simply locked arms and followed the dreams of the perpetrator of this crazy scheme. This is just another means of grabbing Maori land give them access to your land and the rest is history. We need to learn from the mistakes of the pass.

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