A Te Mata Park trustee is calling for the track up the eastern face of Te Mata peak to be retained, saying it is sited on a legal easement and an alternative track would not be lawful.
Hastings lawyer Michael Bate said his views, as published in a Talking Point today, were his own and not those of the Te Mata Park trust, and he doubted the land where the track was built could be restored to what it was before.
Following the furore over the track when it was built last year, Craggy Range Winery made a commitment to remove the track, but Mr Bate said it may not be possible to restore the area, as it was already being used extensively and it added to the public recreation activities in the region.
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"The track's resource consent requires Craggy Range to grant a legal easement in perpetuity for the public to walk it. This easement is to be held on our behalf by Hastings District Council, so legally the Craggy track is really our track.
"Some critics of the Craggy track believe it can be removed and the land put back as it was. I am told by track builders and an engineer that this is impossible to do...our efforts may be better spent working together to improve the track."
He said it had been suggested an alternative track could be built on the eastern slope of the peak, but the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) said they did not see how such a track could be lawful.
EDS' Gary Taylor did not rule out an alternative track, but said it would have to comply with the outstanding landscape and cultural values associated with the area.
"There would need to be a proper public process for considering such a suggestion."
Mr Taylor said the EDS was seeking further assurance from Craggy Range Winery to confirm the society's position that it was relying on the winery to make good on its commitment to restore the track.
"What he (Mr Bate) thinks is not relevant."
Mr Taylor said he was not sure why it was taking Craggy Range so long to restore the track.
"Our landscape architect says it should only take a couple of days to do a restoration plan."
Mana whenua Robert MacDonald, a Waimarama kaumatua, said he did not have any comment to make on Mr Bate's opinion.
Similar discussions had prompted him to walk out of a Te Mata Park Trust meeting last month, he said.
"Until we hear from Craggy Range who have already given their assurance to restore the track, I have nothing to say at this stage."
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the track belonged to Craggy Range and what happened with it next was a matter for them to determine.
"Craggy Range have stated they are looking at remediation options, and they should be given time to complete this work."
Craggy Range Winery chief executive Michael Wilding said the company's position had not changed since the end of January.
"We have commissioned a landscape architect to complete a remediation plan for us based on the advice we received from mana whenua and Hastings District Council when we met them in early January.
"We are having that plan independently peer reviewed to ensure it is robust. We expect to have the plan and the independent review completed in early April.
"Once we have the report we will then seek legal advice as to the appropriate approach to resource consent."
Mr Wilding defended the length of time the process was taking in response to EDS' view that a restoration plan should not take too long to complete.
"That is certainly not the advice we have been given by our specialist consultants, of whom we consider to be far more qualified to advise us on these matters than EDS," he said.
Hawke's Bay Today was unable to contact Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc chief executive Ngahiwi Tomoana, who when the track was first installed described it as seeing the peak "sliced and butchered by an ugly zigzagging track looking like an open sore".