Updated: Horizons Regional Council has apologised to Whanganui hapū after a consent was granted to excavate a section of the Punakewhitu/Gentle Annie maunga without consultation.
Work was suspended on the site last week after 120 people gathered to protest the earthworks, taking place to widen a road, which appeared to have taken place with little consultation with local hapū.
The maunga is metres away from a popular lookout point on the Whanganui River Rd, which overlooks a picturesque valley that includes the Whanganui River.
Protest organiser Ken Mair said last week the earthworks at the site began on Wednesday to the surprise of local hapū.
"You can see my marae from right here, and I didn't know anything about it," he said.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Horizons Regional Council strategy and regulation group manager Dr Nic Peet said hapū were not included in the consultation process and the council was sorry.
"Horizons apologises unreservedly for not including hapū in the consent process and for the hurt and distress caused as a result," the statement said.
"Horizons also apologises directly to maunga Punakewhitu."
It was Horizons' intention to meet with local hapū to convey the apology in person, the statement said.
"Horizons would like to continue dialogue with all parties to seek resolution and restoration and will take a lead from hapū in this respect."
Ngā Tāngata Tiaki O Whanganui chairman Gerrard Albert said in statement also released yesterday that the group was disappointed with the council.
"Horizons Regional Council has issued a resource consent for this activity without adequately ensuring that hapū had been consulted first," Albert said.
Albert said Horizons informed the group there would be consultation on the part of the applicant, which never eventuated.
"On 9 July 2020, Horizons sent us an email stating that an employee of the applicant was to speak with hapū. Horizons issued a consent in December without checking that this process had occurred.
"Hapū last week rightly expressed their dismay and hurt at the failure of the applicant or Horizons to engage with hapū. As far as we knew, this engagement was still planned by the applicant.
"Ngā Tāngata Tiaki has demanded that Horizons, as the public body issuing the consent, own up to its failings and fix this situation."
The Chronicle has requested a copy of the original consent from Horizons.
The landowner has been contacted for comment.