Northlanders are being urged to have their say on a ground-breaking management plan for one of New Zealand's best-known beaches.
Ninety Mile Beach, or Te Oneroa-Ā-Tōhe, stretches 90km from Ahipara to Scott Pt, just south of Cape Reinga. It is an iconic tourist attraction and a popular recreation area but also has special significance to Māori as Te Ara Wairua, the spiritual pathway followed by the deceased as they return to their ancient homeland.
A Treaty settlement in 2012 established the Te Oneroa-Ā-Tōhe Beach Board, which is charged with developing a management plan for the beach.
The eight-member board has an even split of iwi and local government representatives.
As a first step in developing he plan, chairman Haami Piripi said the board wanted to hear people's views on the important issues facing the beach and how they should be managed.
"At this point, there are no set views on what the plan might say and we're genuinely keen to hear everyone's views," he said.
Piripi said the beach was of extreme cultural, historical and spiritual significance, not just to the five iwi who made up Te Hiku o Te Ika (The tail of the Fish), but also to the wider community, Māori and non-Māori, across Northland and New Zealand.
A series of hui will be held around the north in July and August to gauge people's views. People could also email or post feedback and further consultation would be held over summer.
The information gathered would help shape a draft of the plan, which the board hoped to release for further comment in about a year's time.
Piripi said that might seem a long way off but board members were ''acutely aware'' of the wide range of views about the beach and were focused on getting the balance right.
The board has one representative of each of the Te Hiku o Te Ika iwi which have signed Treaty settlements (Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngāi Takoto, Ngāti Kahu and Te Rarawa), two Northland Regional councillors, the Far North mayor and one Far North District councillor.
Ngāti Kahu can join the board if a Deed of Settlement is agreed or if the iwi joins at the invitation of the Minister of Treaty Negotiations.
The final plan is due to be approved in February 2021.
■ The hui will be held on July 18, Te Ahu Centre, Kaitaia, 4-6pm; July 19, Roma Marae, Ahipara, 5.30-7.30pm; July 20, Kaitaia Markets, 8-10am; July 26, Potahi Marae, Te Kao 5.30-7.30pm; August 25, Houhora Big Game and Sports Fishing Club, Pukenui, 4-6pm; August 26, Te Hiku o Te Ika Marae, Te Hapua, 5.30-7.30pm; August 27, Kaitaia Golf Club, Ahipara, 4-6pm. Feedback can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 13 or posted to Te Oneroa-Ā-Tōhe Beach Management Plan, Northland Regional Council, Private Bag 9021, Whangārei Mail Centre, Whangārei 0148. Go to www.teoneroa-a-tohe.nz for more information.