Plans to build a 6.5km walkway and cycleway through Papamoa's main coastal dunes have been opposed by the areas's sub-tribe, Nga Potiki.
The hapu's resource management unit manager Matire Duncan said the coastal area and its natural landscape were special, not just to Nga Potiki but other tribes. They had guardianship over the coastal dunes because of the dunes' historical associations for Maori, including Nga Potiki, Ngai Te Rangi and Te Arawa.
"There is nothing about this we like."
She said a lot of people died during the wars between Ngai Te Rangi and Rotorua's Te Arawa iwi and some were buried in the dunes. Earthworks and subdivisions over the past 30 years had uncovered human bones dating from the time of those conflicts.
Nga Potiki would be opposing the Papamoa Rotary Club project when the Tauranga City Council called for public submissions on its draft coastal reserves management plan.
The proposed walkway through the dunes from Logan Ave to the Taylor Rd Reserve was described by project spokesman Warwick Thorburn as a project that balanced respect for the environment with allowing people to enjoy a magnificent and unique coastline.
Rotary's plan was to take one of the existing well-defined walking tracks that followed the contour of the dunes, widen it to 1.5 to 2m and metal it.
The proposal drew a hostile reaction from city councillor Murray Guy when details were outlined to the council last Tuesday. "To cut a track through the centre of the dunes will be over my dead body," he said.
Ms Duncan said they did not want the dunes denigrated in any way. They could not stop people from walking through the dunes but when it came to constructing a walkway and cycleway then it became earthworks and Nga Potiki did not want that happening.
"We are comfortable with its [the dunes] present use."
The first she heard about the walkway/cycleway plan was Wednesday's story in the Bay of Plenty Times.
Papamoa Rotary Club president Karen Boyte said a lot of consultation and discussion needed to happen and it was still early days.
She said they were mindful of the cultural impacts and the need to engage with groups. "These things are always challenging - we will have to work through the process."
Mrs Boyte said Rotary had received a great deal of support for the proposal.