4 Jul 2018

Te Mata Peak stoush escalates to High Court over track

12:32 pm on 4 July 2018

The long-running saga over Craggy Range Winery's controversial track on Te Mata Peak is going to the High Court.

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

Environmental Defence Society (EDS) is seeking to overturn Hastings District Council's controversial decision to grant Craggy Range Winery a consent without notifying the public.

The zig-zag track has been the subject of furious debate since it was built up the eastern slope of Te Mata Peak late last year.

EDS will also ask the High Court to order the complete removal of the track.

Chief executive Gary Taylor told Morning Report the company had the resources to do so, as it had promised last December, and there were no practical impediments to doing that.

RNZ understands representatives from Waimarama Marae are supporting the legal action.

Long-running dispute

Members of local iwi Ngāti Kahungunu were so outraged to find the zig-zag track on Te Mata Peak at the end of last year.

Ngāti Kahungunu Trust chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said the land was completely butchered and he was left feeling furious.

Mr Tomoana said 200 years ago his great-great grandmother, Winipere Rotohenga, was captured on the hill by Waikato warriors and marched off to Maungatautari to be a slave.

The hill now sat in the shape of a Ngāti Kahungunu's highly regarded chief, Rongokako, he said

Craggy Range Winery promised in December 2017 to remove the walking and cycling track cut into the eastern face of the mountain.

However in May, it released a report saying remediation would never get the land back to its original condition, prompting furious protests by Ngāti Kahungunu and accusations of racism.

Last month Ngāti Kahungunu and Craggy Range Winery announced they would close the existing, controversial track, and build a new one that would protect areas of cultural significance.

Ngāti Kahungunu said in a statement wāhi tapu or sacred areas would be protected, and it would allow mana whenua to be the guardians of their own land.

An emergency hui was held after the announcement in which Ngāti Kahungunu tried to assure those present that the new plan it had unveiled with Craggy Range would benefit everyone.

But representatives of Waimarama Marae blasted Ngāti Kahungunu's chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana for signing off on the deal without speaking to them first.

EDS said the council and Craggy Range had been notified about the court proceedings.

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