The land upon which the controversial Craggy Range walking track was built will be turned into a regional park, and there is the potential for a new track to be built.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council today announced its intent to create a new regional park, Te Rongo Regional Park, on the eastern flank of Te Mata Peak.
Te Rongo means The Peace, a nod to the turbulent few years after the initial track's construction in late 2017.
The new park will be about 50ha in size and is located opposite Craggy Range Winery and adjoining the existing Te Mata Park.
It will increase the size of park land on Te Mata Peak by nearly 50 per cent.
The land for the park is being gifted by three Hawke's Bay businessmen - Andy Lowe, Jonathan McHardy and Michael Wilding - who have purchased the land solely for the purpose of gifting the park to all people of Hawke's Bay to enjoy.
The land will be held and administered on behalf of the Hawke's Bay community by a newly formed trust.
The founding trustees will be Rex Graham, chairman of Hawke's Bay Regional Council, and Ngahiwi Tomoana, chairman of Ngāti Kahungunu.
The trust's purpose is to create a regional park with appropriate protection over culturally sensitive areas, plant native flora across the site, increase biodiversity, and provide access for the enjoyment of the whole community.
The land will eventually include a small carpark alongside Waimarama Rd to allow for safe public access from the eastern side.
The two founding trustees said the creation of the park was a special gift and taonga for all the people of Hawke's Bay.
Graham and Tomoana said, while the process to reach this point had been painful and divisive, the creation of a new park would bring the community together.
"We have been working on this project for over a year now and we are very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of this very generous gift on behalf of all the people of Hawke's Bay," Graham said.
"Andy, Jonathan and Michael have invested their own money to make this happen for our whole community and we are grateful to them for their vision and commitment to our region.
Graham said there was the potential for a new track on the land.
"What we've told the community is that once we've settled this track, we will start a conversation on what's next.
"And that's what's always been the deal with tangata whenua.
"They wanted this one settled before they started talking about other options and that's what we've agreed to and that's what will happen."
Ngahiwi Tomoana said the saga of the existing walking track on the eastern slope of Te Mata Peak, which had divided the Hawke's Bay community, was at an end.
He said he was looking forward to working with the hapū whose history was embedded in the land to ensure its cultural significance was protected for all to enjoy.
"This partnership will help heal the wounds and hurt that developed around the old track and bring the people of Hawke's Bay closer together around the values we share for our land, our environment and our people," he said.
The new park will be designed on the same model as Hawea park, currently under construction at Pakowhai.
Hapū and marae representing the mana whenua will be 50 per cent partners in the new regional park with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.
Graham and Tomoana expressed their thanks for the support from the Drabble family, Craggy Range, the Te Mata Peak People's Track Society, the Hastings District Council, mana whenua and the many individuals who had tried to bring people together to foster a solution to the issue.
Craggy Range Winery chief executive Michael Wilding, speaking on behalf of the three donors, said "we are pleased to be able to assist the Regional Council and Ngāti Kahungunu in protecting a significant portion of the eastern face of Te Mata Peak, while also providing the community with a fantastic regional park".
"I want to thank all those involved in this project for their effort and commitment to finding a solution that represents a fantastic result for our region," he said.
Te Mata Peak People's Track Society, which was formed in April 2018 to represent the "overwhelming public interest" in retaining the Craggy Range Track, welcomed the news.
Society chairman Xan Harding said it had been a "rocky road" but Te Rongo Park would be a fantastic addition to the region's park network.
Graham said they had informed all parties and "everyone is delighted".
TE MATA PEAK TRACK CONTROVERSY - THE TIMELINE:
• Craggy Range Winery built the track after resource consent was granted by the council in 2017, without informing local iwi.
• Consent was granted on October 16, 2017 and the majority of the track completed by early December 2017.
• However, concerns were raised by iwi and the wider community before it was completed and work was put on hold.
• The council has already filled in the top 500m after a report found that section put lives at risk.
• It cost the Council $62,000 and the remaining 1335m is expected to cost $150,000.