James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Save New Chum group looks to work with local councils

A proposal for a shared purchase of New Chum Beach will be put before the Waikato Regional Council tomorrow.  Photo / Alan Gibson
A proposal for a shared purchase of New Chum Beach will be put before the Waikato Regional Council tomorrow. Photo / Alan Gibson

A group fighting to save an idyllic Coromandel Peninsula beach from development could seek the financial backing of local bodies and the Government to aid its cause.

The Preserve New Chum for Everyone group says it wants to work on a collaborative basis with the Thames-Coromandel District Council, the Waikato Regional Council and the Government to "find an enduring solution" which will preserve the beach near Whangapoua.

The isolated beach has an international reputation for its powdery white shores and emerald waters that can be reached only on foot and when the tide is out in the Whangapoua Estuary.

In a paper to be presented to the regional council tomorrow, the group says its preferred option is for the 365ha of land at the beach to bepurchased and designated as a recreational reserve.

"We will be advocating for a joint approach in terms of a funding commitment on a shared contribution basis from all parties involved," says the paper.

"This collaborative approach could include other funders and is open for further discussion.

"We, as the advocacy group, are prepared to fundraise an agreed 'in kind' contribution on receipt of an agreement in principle from the listed parties."

A spokeswoman for the group, Linda Cholmondeley Smith, said the group had already held positive meetings with the district and regional councils.

"They have made an undertaking to move a resolution that enables us to go back to Parliament with their support to consider various options to preserve New Chum."

In December 2010 the land's owners, Coastland Land Trust Holdings, offered to sell the beach to the Crown and give back half the proceeds after a campaign against a subdivision plan at the beach was started.

But the deal fell over after separate valuations provided differed by about $10 million.

"Because they put that proposal to the Government a lot of people in New Zealand and around the world thought that New Chum had been settled and preserved, but it is not," said Ms Cholmondeley Smith.

In May, the Thames-Coromandel District Council approved a motion to agree in principle that it consider being a partner in the purchase of a reserve area for New Chum Beach subject to price, benefits and commitment of other funders.

The regional council said the owners of Te Punga Punga Station, which includes New Chum Beach, intended to submit a revised resource consent application for lots in the Whangapoua - not the New Chum - catchment before the end of next month with a view to a hearing in September.

- NZ Herald

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