Rangiwaea Islanders are seeking the closure of Tauranga's popular Hunters Creek water ski lane to reduce the risk of death and injury and protect their lifestyles.

Issues surrounding the ski lane that runs between the forested side of Matakana Island and Rangiwaea Island have surfaced at hearings on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's review of its navigation safety bylaw.

The council proposes to retain the ski lane but to reduce pressure on Hunters Creek by opening a new nearby ski lane, off the south-western end Matakana Island - part of an area called Panepane Point.

A significant part of Hunters Creek was a ski area under the current rules, with the council saying its sheltered location made it one of the most sought-after harbour locations for boaties.


The council acknowledged there were increasing numbers of recreational users, with a lack of space and heightened risks at low tide.

Risks were also identified from jet skis and other non-tow vessels operating at over 5 knots within 50m of another vessel or within 200m of shore.

Opponents of retaining the Hunters Creek ski lane included the Rangiwaea Marae Trust and Te Whanau a Tauwhao ki nga Moutere Settlement Trust.

They supported opening a new ski land off Panepane Point, warning that waiting another five years for the next navigation review would be disastrous. ''There are already too many boats in the area trying to do their own thing.''

Ski boats and jet skiers were criticised for performing ''crazy skiing antics'' to the detriment of everyone else.''

The submission also cited ''bad behaviour'' that included failing to put our fires on the shoreline and leaving rubbish behind.

Another submission from the trusts said there had been a loss of life in the area with accidents and near misses that often went unreported.

There are already too many boats in the area trying to do their own thing.


A submission from an unnamed resident of Rangiwaea blamed skiers for doing ''dumb and dangerous moves'' that scared people out of the water. ''My mokopuna have been told to get out of the water because they are in the way.''

However, many submitters supported retaining the Hunters Creek ski lane, including Rohan Cook who called it ''a fantastic sheltered ski area'', saying closure would be heart breaking to keen water skiers.

He said regular users respected the environment and abided by speed restrictions around the head of Rangiwaea Island when entering Hunters Creek and the other bylaws.

Mr Cook supported the new ski lane, saying he had seen how build up on the sand bar had affected usable areas of the channel, particularly the area by the ammunition barge.

The Tauranga Marina Society also urged the council to delete the proposed moving exclusion zone around ships. It warned the bylaw would affect all harbour users whenever a ship of over 500 tonnes was moving in the channels.

The society said that to the best of its knowledge there had been no recorded incident of a collision between recreational boaties and commercial ships.

The hearings before independent commissioners conclude in Rotorua today.