Sorry.
Sometimes it is the hardest word to say.

But the Hastings District Council had no problem with it at the start of a resource consent hearing seeking approval to fix a track on Te Mata Peak.

The track was built by Craggy Range, which became the meat in a council-iwi sandwich when it was given approval to build the track.

It turned out the track might have been approved but the consultation with iwi wasn't done properly. Actually, it wasn't done.

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Having tripped up, the council has since fallen over itself to consult, and right the wrong.

It's a wonder no one slipped over in the irony that dripped during yesterday's resource consent hearing to fix the track, given that permission is being sought to fix a track that arguably shouldn't have been given permission in the first place.

Consultation is being done properly now, though. Don't worry.

One has to wonder though, how the iwi-HDC relationship broke down so badly. Or perhaps it wasn't fully formed.

Because surely conversations took place after the iwi noticed a track was being slashed into its maunga, like a scar from some sort of giant, out-of-control Zorro sword?

Oh to have been a fly on the wall when those phone calls or emails were flying.

But good on the HDC - sorry can indeed be the hardest word for a local body to say.

Especially when admitting culpability can open a can of legal worms. (Hence "sorry" was carefully mentioned in regard to the Havelock North water crisis.)

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Unlike the water crisis though, all roads in the Te Mata Peak track saga pretty much led directly to the HDC - and so its hand has gone up.

At least it admitted the mistake.

What didn't get mentioned during yesterday's apology was that the HDC would dearly love to get through this consultation phase and put the whole thing behind it.

The track saga has become the opposite of the gift that keeps giving, and in an election year, the less of those hanging around, the better.