Leaders of a Tauranga hapū at the centre of a $14m cycleway controversy are looking forward to finding a cycleway solution that works for all parties involved.
Ngāti Kahu representatives Des Kohotea, Mokohiti Brown, Ronda Tokona and Mark Nogaj say they are part of a mandated group elected by the hapū to represent it on matters relating to the Ōmokoroa to Tauranga Cycleway.
They claim statements by kaumatua Lou Te Keeti on the hapū's position are "not supported or endorsed by the mandated Ngāti Kahu team".
The $14m cycleway, five years in the making, runs from Ōmokoroa harbour to the Wairoa Bridge. Its final section had been approved and planned to run alongside State Highway 2, past the Wairoa Marae which Ngāti Kahu is affiliated with.
However, concerns about the safety of this stopped progress while Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and the hapū review the plans.
In a story in Wednesday's Bay of Plenty Times, hapū kaumatua Lou Te Keeti spoke of the hapū's opposition to the planned cycleway section and that they would take the matter to the courts if they had to, citing the Resource Management Act (RMA).
But in a statement, after that story was published, the group said it had been elected to represent the hapū on all cycleway matters. It called for a meeting in July to discuss the cycleway route because little information had been forwarded to the hapū since the beginning of the cycleway planning of 2016.
The hapū was concerned about the impact of the SH2 section of the cycleway in relation to accessways to the marae and surrounding properties, the statement said.
In the statement, the group said Te Keeti was kept on the team because of his past role for the hapū on the cycleway – through Te Runanga o Ngati Kahu regarding consultation and negotiation for RMA issues.
While the hapū was unanimous in opposing the planned section of cycleway, the group said it did not agree with Te Keeti's statements which were "not supported or endorsed by the mandated Ngāti Kahu team".
The group said it had met with the mayors and transport agency on September 16 regarding an alternative option to the original cycleway plan, and this was now being reviewed, the statement said.
"In this process, the Ngāti Kahu Cycleway team have developed a very strong relationship with both councils through the mayors and NZTA and we will continue to maintain this approach to work together to meet the safety issues of the cycleway for Ngāti Kahu and the wider community."
In response to the group's statement, Te Keeti told the Bay of Plenty Times he was and still is, as senior kaumatua, the appropriate Ngāti Kahu representative to speak on matters regarding the cycleway.
Te Keeti had always been the negotiator for the hapū and he stood by his comments, he said.
Te Keeti said he had been elected to the role and the group was brought on board to help him.
He was unable to talk further but said he could discuss the matter further tomorrow.