The Far North District Council has voted to appoint Mayor John Carter and Cr David Collard as its representatives to Te Oneroa a Tohe (90 Mile Beach) Governance Board, which will be formed as part of the Treaty settlements for four Te Hiku iwi, against strong opposition from Te Hiku Ward councillor Mate Radich.
His concerns included that effectively giving responsibility for management of the beach to iwi would likely see public access restricted, and not only on 90 Mile Beach.
"East Beach has to be a worry now," he said.
"There are people at Kaimaumau who are waiting to see what happens, and I wouldn't be surprised if public access to that beach came under threat too. Remember the road from the village to the harbour has never been legalised."
Cr Radich said the council could have pulled out of the governance board process, in which case it would have been nullified.
There were already problems, he added. A 'No Parking' sign had been erected at the Bluff - "That didn't come from the district council, the regional council or DOC" - and Ngati Kuri was benefiting financially from tour buses using Te Paki Stream to get on to and off the beach.
"What about the other tribes? Will Ngai Takoto start charging at Waipapakauri Ramp and Te Rarawa at Shipwreck Bay?" he asked.
"If access is restricted or charged for in one place, it will soon be restricted or charged for everywhere.
"Once the tribes have control, what do you think is going to happen? Will the mussel spat harvesters have to pay a levy? What about the crayfishermen at Ahipara?
"The council could have walked away from this mess, but chose not to do so." (The only support had come from fellow Te Hiku councillor Colin Kitchen.)
He also queried the appointment of Cr Collard to the board, claiming his involvement in the annual Snapper Bonanza surfcasting competition gave him a clear conflict of interest.
"He draws a salary from that, so how can he be on the board?" he asked.
"When the council was looking at taking water for Kaitaia from the Sweetwater aquifer, I was told I had a conflict of interest because I live in the same general area, but that was small beer compared with this.
"I don't think people understand the consequences," he added.
"We should leave the beach as it is. Speeding vehicles are a police issue, and any problems with access points should be handled by the community board. They are the only issues, and we don't need a governance board to address them."
He disputed the view that traffic was responsible for destroying the toheroa beds, the more likely explanation being a lack of food, and the effect of Aupouri Forest on the amount of fresh water travelling over and under the beach.
"There aren't enough flounder or mullet to make netting worthwhile any more either, so what's happened to them?" he asked.
"I don't imagine they were run over by buses."