Proposals to reduce the speed limit on Ninety Mile Beach to 30km/h in some places and 60km/h for the rest of the iconic beach are going out for public consultation.
Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Board - which is guardian of Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe/Ninety Mile Beach - said the mauri of the beach is showing signs of fatigue, with the scars of historical damage neglect, pollution and abusive behaviour.
The public will have until October 9 to provide feedback on a long-awaited draft of a formal management plan for the beach.
The speed limit on the beach is 100km/h, but the draft management plan proposes to reduce this to 30km/h within 200 metres of any beach accessway or any activity - such as boat launching, people fishing - on the beach, with a 60km/h limit the remainder of the beach.
Beach board chair Haami Piripi (Te Rarawa) says the comprehensive Draft Te Rautaki o Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe (Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Beach Management Plan) represents a great deal of work – including substantial previous public input – over the past 18 months.
Piripi said the beach has great cultural, historical and spiritual significance – not just to the five local iwi who make up Te Hiku o Te Ika – but to the wider community, Māori and non-Māori alike.
"Unfortunately, in 2020, the mauri of Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe is showing signs of fatigue, with the scars of historical damage neglect, pollution and abusive behaviour being observed by present generations," he said.
The draft plan covers a broad range of activities, including cultural, resource management and economic considerations. It's designed to reflect public concerns/feedback already expressed to the board, including the care and safety of all users and visitors to the beach, acknowledging tangata whenua and protecting the environment.
"The board's collective focus has always been on getting the balance of the draft plan right, believing its importance and likely longevity means it is not something that should be rushed and it's crucial that everyone who wants to is able to express their views and have these considered," Piripi said.
He said the draft plan broadly reflects aspirations for three priority matters:
• Protecting and preserving the beach from inappropriate use and development and ensuring resources are preserved and enhanced for present and future generations.
• Recognising the importance of the beach for Te Hiku o Te Ika iwi/hapu and ensuring continued access to mahinga kai.
• Recognising and providing for spiritual, cultural and historic relationships with the beach.
Piripi encourages as many people as possible to take advantage of the consultation period, saying the plan offered an incredible opportunity to give effect to a vision for the beach many – especially Māori – would not have had thought possible.
"[Treaty of Waitangi] claims have been heard, grievances established and institutional arrangements righted. All that remains is for New Zealanders to embrace this opportunity."
Feedback can be done online, posted or dropped off in person at the Kaitāia offices of Northland Regional Council or Far North District Council, or any main office of Ngāi Takoto, Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri or Ngāti Kuri.
Established through Treaty of Waitangi settlement legislation, the eight-member Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Board has an even split of iwi and local government members and has been tasked with developing a management plan for the iconic beach.
The draft is online at www.teoneroa-a-tohe.nz, and the feedback period runs until October 9.