Hawke’s Bay Regional Council today announced its intent to create a new regional park, Te Rongo Regional Park, on the Eastern flank of Te Mata Peak.
Te Rongo means The Peace.
The new park will be approximately 50 hectares (123 acres) in size and is located opposite Craggy Range Winery and adjoining the existing Te Mata Park. It includes the land upon which the controversial zigzag walking track was built, and will increase the size of park land on Te Mata Peak by nearly 50 per cent.
The land for the park is being gifted by three Hawke’s Bay businessmen - Andy Lowe, Jonathan McHardy and Michael Wilding - who have purchased the land solely for the purpose of gifting this park to all people of Hawke’s Bay to enjoy.
The land will be held and administered on behalf of the Hawke’s Bay community by a newly-formed trust, with the founding trustees being Rex Graham, Chairman of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, and Ngahiwi Tomoana, Chairman of Ngati Kahungunu.
The Trust’s purpose is to create a regional park with appropriate protection over culturally sensitive areas, plant native flora across the site, increase biodiversity, and provide access for the enjoyment of the whole community. It will eventually include a small carpark alongside Waimarama Road to allow for safe public access from the Eastern side.
The two founding trustees said the creation of the park was a special gift and taonga for all the people of Hawke’s Bay. They said while the process to reach this point had been painful and divisive, the creation of a new park would bring the community together around protecting and enjoying a piece of land which was very special to many people.
“We have been working on this project for over a year now and we are very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of this very generous gift on behalf of all the people of Hawke’s Bay. Andy, Jonathan and Michael have invested their own money to make this happen for our whole community and we are grateful to them for their vision and commitment to our region,” said Rex Graham.
Ngahiwi Tomoana said he was delighted that the saga of the existing walking track on the Eastern slope of Te Mata Peak, which had divided the Hawke’s Bay community, was at an end. He said he was looking forward to working with the hapu whose history is embedded in the land to ensure its cultural significance was protected for all people to enjoy.
“Today’s announcement is just the beginning of this visionary project and we now have a lot of work to do to realise the potential of this wonderful gift. The trustees are committed that this partnership will help heal the wounds and hurt that developed around the old track and bring the people of Hawke’s Bay closer together around the values we share for our land, our environment and our people,” he said.
The new park will be designed on the same model as Hawea park, currently under construction at Pakowhai. Hapu and Marae representing the mana whenua will be 50 per cent partners in the new regional park with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
The Founding Trustees said they had been waiting for the consent process to remediate the previous walking track on the land to go through its process and expect this to happen next week.
They expressed their thanks for the support from the Drabble family, Craggy Range, the Te Mata Peak People’s Track Society, the Hastings District Council, Mana whenua and the many individuals who have tried to bring people together to foster a solution to this issue.
Michael Wilding, Chief Executive of Craggy Range Winery, speaking on behalf of the three donors, said ‘we are pleased to be able to assist the Regional Council and Ngati Kahungunu in protecting a significant portion of the Eastern face of Te Mata Peak, while also providing the community with a fantastic regional park’.
“I want to thank all those involved in this project for their effort and commitment to finding a solution that represents a fantastic result for our region,” he said.
16 July 2019
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