20 May 2018

Council steps into Te Mata Peak fight

8:26 am on 20 May 2018

Hastings District Council is stepping in to resolve a stoush between local iwi and a winery over a controversial walking track on Te Mata Peak.

The controversial walking track up the Eastern side of Te Mata Peak.

The controversial walking track up the Eastern side of Te Mata Peak. Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

Craggy Range Winery promised in December to remove the zig-zag track up the mountain's eastern face.

However, earlier this month it released an expert report saying remediation would never get the land back to its original condition, which triggered furious protests by local iwi, Ngāti Kahungunu.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the council had appointed a team of independent advisers, including a landscape architect, a cultural adviser, and planning, policy and consenting experts, to help assess all the options for the mountain.

"Whatever option we consider we must include cultural awareness, recreational access and environmental protection of this much loved outstanding landscape," she said.

"It is an opportunity for us to not only gain a deeper understanding of Te Mata Peak and what it means to us, but also an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of what we mean to each other."

A cultural assessment was "critical to the full understanding of Ngāti Kahungunu's perspective", she said.

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana, who had earlier criticised Craggy Range as treating his people like "dumb savages from the wop-wops", welcomed the move to appoint a cultural adviser.

A cultural audit was timely and would reveal what iwi had been concerned about "from day one", he said.

Craggy Range Winery chief executive Michael Wilding said he was pleased to see the mayor showing leadership and he was looking forward to working alongside iwi, the council and other stakeholders to find a solution.

The chairman of Te Mata Peak Peoples' Track Society Incorporated, George Williams said the society welcomed the chance to work alongside other stakeholders "on an informed and rational basis".

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