Survey shows overwhelming love for Mauao

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Last month city council launched an online survey asking Tauranga residents what they love about Mauao.

Responses so far show Mauao is "an icon, our sacred maunga" where people go to feel "spiritually connected and free".

I love the Mount so much that I actually have it tattooed on my back.
Response to Mauao survey

The Tauranga City Council survey opened online on Wednesday February 10, and asked what people love about Mauao, what they think needs protecting, and how they think the mountain needs to be best managed for current use and future generations.

The responses consistently pointed to connection with nature as the thing people loved most about Mauao, with respondents using phrases like "soul food", "raw beauty in an urban setting", "the spiritual peace of Mauao" and "I love the Mount so much that I actually have it tattooed on my back."

Read more: Koha proposal for visitors to Mauao

Other things that people said they love about Mauao was the quality of the walking tracks, spectacular views, and the mountain's Maori heritage and cultural history.

There have been requests for information panels and signs to help inform and celebrate the cultural history of Mauao.

While some people love Mauao as being "the best outdoor gym on the planet", others are concerned about the cumulative impact of events on the mountain and the effects of increasing numbers of people using the tracks.

It is what makes us unique nationally and throughout the South Pacific. The positive comments from the survey to date express the need to protect and preserve this icon.
Dean Flavell, Chair of the joint board

The most commonly raised issue is that the natural features of Mauao need protection.

There is a consistent call for stricter enforcement around litter, dogs and smoking.

Frequently mentioned concerns include erosion, pedestrian traffic, and pest control - particularly rabbits.

Many respondents express a desire that free access to Mauao is maintained.

The survey would help inform a draft reserve management plan that is being developed by Nga Poutiriao O Mauao, the joint administration board that manages the reserve.

Chair of the joint board Dean Flavell said Mauao is core to the cultural identity of Tauranga Moana.

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"It is what makes us unique nationally and throughout the South Pacific. The positive comments from the survey to date express the need to protect and preserve this icon.

"Ko Mauao te maunga e tu ake nei: 'Mauao, the mountain that will stand here forever'. We hope to capture this in the new management plan," Mr Flavell said.

Council strategic planner Melony Atkins said feedback from the public and stakeholders was confirming that the mountain is well managed.

"With only a few exceptions, the survey responses are overwhelmingly in favour of keeping Mauao as natural and unchanged as possible.

"The management plan review will seek to make sure that things we are already doing are still the best way forward, as well as looking ahead to see if there is anything that should be done differently," she said.

Most people have spent about four minutes answering the survey. The shortest amount of time spent so far is under a minute, and the longest is 35 minutes.

The survey closes 6 April.

Find the survey online at www.tauranga.govt.nz/mauao

- Bay of Plenty Times

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