So, Hastings District Council is publicly notifying a resource consent application to remove the track cut by Craggy Range Winery up the eastern face of Te Mata Peak, giving all and sundry a chance to put their 5c in on whether it should stay or go.

I'm sorry, say that again?

Not that I wish to be seen to demean a process that fully engages with the public, but – especially given possible appeals to any decision might blow out costs that are already nearing $700,000 – exactly why should a work that I believe is in effect illegal require public input to remediate?

Honestly, if you sat down to write a fictional story around a relatively minor stuff-up that became a major scandal, you would be hard pressed to beat the reality of this one.


Except, in a fiction one might expect some heads to roll in consequence; a good drama always needs fall guys.

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In my view it is quite plain HDC should never have issued a consent for the track in the first place, and has never (to my knowledge) baldly apologised for doing so, neither the officer who failed in his duty, nor his manager, nor the CEO, nor the Mayor, who all became involved in the debacle as it escalated, have suffered any reprimand or penalty.

It is quite inexplicable that HDC as a whole, mainly through the utterances of Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst, has continued to defend what is indefensible: the granting of a non-notified consent to scar part of what is rightly recognised, in Hastings' own district plan, as "the most iconic landscape feature" in the whole of the Bay.

And that's without even considering cultural and historic aspects.

To now invite the public to resume debating the merits (if there are any) of the track – which was never finished, never officially opened, and which recently had to have its top 500m removed urgently because it was deemed a public safety hazard – is not "showing leadership", Ms Hazlehurst.

It's re-opening the can of worms that has caused such angst and racially-charged debate over the past year, to no good purpose. And potentially, much further harm.

To force tangata whenua to go through a hearings (and then possibly court) process to explain why, in supporting the track's removal, they feel aggrieved is simply intolerable. But because of the public notification they will feel obliged to do so.


Ngati Kahungunu iwi chair Ngahiwi Tomoana has already vividly made plain his feelings on the matter, reinforcing in doing so what a classic blunder the original consent was, in that it failed to even begin to consult with iwi.

Do you not employ cultural advisers to help you understand and regulate such issues?

Which also begs the question, exactly what value have Hastings ratepayers got from the close to half a million dollars spent on consultants to advise council on this next step in the process? Zero, apparently.

Boy, wish I had that sort of money to just fritter away without reason! Oh, wait; some of that is my money.

Please tell us you're joking.

pf■enBruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.