Speed limits of 30km/h within 200 metres of any access point or any activity, such as people fishing or launching boats, and 60km/h for the remainder of the beach, are included in the long-awaited Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe/Ninety Mile Beach management plan.
The management plan, which formally took effect yesterday, also requires regional and district plans to recognise and protect Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe and Te Ara Wairua as a culturally significant landscape
The job of developing the plan was given to the eight-member Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Board, established through Treaty of Waitangi settlement legislation in 2012, membership of which comprises four iwi representatives and four from local government, chairman Haami Piripi (Te Rarawa) saying Te Rautaki o Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe was the result of a great deal of work, including substantial public input, over the last two years in particular.
The plan, which became available at www.teoneroa-a-tohe.nz yesterday, covered a broad range of activities, including cultural, resource management and economic considerations, and was expected to remain in place for up to 10 years.
Piripi said Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe/Ninety Mile Beach had great cultural, historical and spiritual significance, not just for the five iwi of Te Hiku o Te Ika, but for the wider community, Māori and non-Māori alike, New Zealand-wide, starting with Ta Ara Wairua(the spiritual pathway). The plan contained a number of measures designed to reflect public concerns/feedback expressed to the board, including the care and safety of all users and visitors to the beach, acknowledging tangata whenua and protecting the environment.
Its measures would not have immediate effect, however. They would first need to be actioned in the relevant legal documents (such as council bylaws).
Piripi says the board's purpose was to provide governance and direction to everyone with a role in, or responsibility for, Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe management area in order to protect environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual wellbeing within that area for the benefit of present and future generations.
The board hoped the plan would help undo the "scars of historical damage, neglect, pollution and abusive behaviour" that had impacted the beach.
The board's collective focus had always been on getting the balance of the plan right, believing its importance and likely longevity meant it was not something that could be rushed. Board members had also felt very strongly that everyone who wanted to had been able to express their views and have those considered and factored as much as possible into the final plan.
In broad terms, the plan reflected as best it could collective aspirations for three priorities, namely protecting and preserving the beach from inappropriate use and development, ensuring resources were preserved and enhanced for present and future generations; recognising the importance of the beach for Te Hiku o Te Ika iwi/hapū and ensuring continued access to mahinga kai; and recognising and providing for spiritual, cultural and historic relationships with the beach.
"The board is proud of what we have collectively managed to achieve on behalf of all New Zealanders," he said.
"This plan is an incredible opportunity to give effect to a vision for the beach that just a few years ago many people, especially Māori, would not have thought possible."
While the release of the plan represented a significant milestone, however, a great deal of work, including significant research, would still need to be done to better understand the beach's ecology and how human and other influences impacted on it.
Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Board currently comprises Haami Piripi (Te Rarawa, chairman), Far North District councillor Mate Radich (deputy chairman), Mayor John Carter, Northland Regional councillor Colin Kitchen, Wallace Rivers (NgāiTakoto), Graeme Neho (Ngāti Kuri), regional councillor Marty Robinson and Waitai Petera (Te Aupōuri).