MY WORD! What a complete and utter shambles this whole Te Mata track debacle has been.
And once again at the centre of this mess, it appears, are unelected council officials.
There is no doubt that before any construction on the track was started, our local iwi, Ngati Kahungunu, should have been consulted. Craggy Range Winery, it seems, was genuinely trying to do something good.
However, the winery was probably a bit naive in not realising that this was always going to be politically and culturally sensitive and they could have done more. The lesson learned from this is probably to set up a panel to advise them on such things in future.
What is unbelievable is that the consent process was not publicly notified by the Hastings District Council. Even worse is that none of our councillors seemed to know what was happening. Why do we elect these representatives if they don't know what decisions their officials are making?
They will say that the resource consent process is not political so it should be left to the council officials to make the decisions without fear or favour. This is short-sighted.
By their very nature resource consent applications are always going to be political, especially when you are talking about cutting a track into the side of a taonga like our beloved Te Mata Peak. I can understand why Craggy Range has now announced they will remove the track - they just want out of this sorry mess.
But maybe it is time for everyone to stop and take a deep breath. What is done is done and maybe when the track settles in, it will blend into the landscape. A compromise needs to be found.
This is a not a good start for our new mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst, but now is the time for her to show her leadership skills and sort out this mess.