The commercial strip of land at the base of Mauao could end up in Maori ownership, under a proposal put to Tauranga City councillors today.
If the council agreed, it meant that all of Mauao would be in Maori ownership. The rest of Mauao was vested in Tauranga Moana's three iwi by an agreement signed between the Government and the tribes in 2008.
This last chunk of Mauao was the council-owned 5-hectare reserve fronting Adams Ave, occupied by the Beachside Holiday Park and the Mount Hot Pools. It was proposed that ownership of the businesses would stay with the council.
Although Mauao had deep spiritual meaning to Maori, a special meeting of the Tangata Whenua/Council Committee today was told that right of public access to the reserve would be enshrined in any agreement.
Riri Ellis, one of the speakers who put the case for gifting the reserve to the Mount Maunganui hapu Ngai Tukairangi, said afterwards they were not anticipating getting any financial benefit as the land owner.
The meeting was held on Waikari Marae and was chaired by Huikakahu Kawe, the chairman of the Tangata Whenua/Council committee.
Ms Ellis hoped that agreement in principle could be reached with the council by the council elections in October but Mayor Stuart Crosby doubted the council would be in a position to make a decision by then because where reserve land was transferred by the council, the Crown had reserve rights. He anticipated the process could take several years and involve wide community consultation.