Editorial: Peak's raw charm is crucial

By Mark Story

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Mark Story.
Mark Story.

At one point during his murder trial, Peter Beckett turned to the Canadian court's public gallery to perform a brief haka and cite Maori folklore.

"Today, I am Rongokako of Te Mata," he said. "Google it."

A few weeks later the jury failed to deliver a verdict on whether the former Napier city councillor had murdered his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett, in Upper Arrow Lake near Revelstoke in 2010.

Beckett's channelling of Rongokako - the peak's legendary sleeping giant - was a notable Walter Mitty flare-up (among many others) both before and during the trial. While it's highly doubtful he would've been Te Mata Park Trust's first choice for poster boy, it's notable in that of all the Bay's legends and landscapes, the former Cape Kidnappers tourist operator would evoke the Ngati Kahungunu ancestor and Te Mata Peak. It's possibly history's strangest ever tourism endorsement.

Still, one can only guess as to how many in the public gallery did just that, and Googled it. If they did, they'd have gone straight to the trust's website - which outlines its 2015-2025 Management Plan.

All talk is of the proposal for a revamped park, including the prospects of an amphitheatre and a remodelling of its main gates and summit.

Yet the peak's rugged good looks is its primary charm; there's a balancing act required when contemplating its gentrification.

Trust chairman Bruno Chambers agreed this was a challenge, yet said last week the trust would aim to maintain the "wilderness qualities" while enhancing the experience for users.

Hence, give Rongokako a makeover by all means, but let's not rouse the sleeping giant too much.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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