Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis is dismissing claims that iwi are planning to charge people to access Ninety Mile Beach as scaremongering and a media beat-up.

It is possible, however, that heavy traffic on the beach will face restrictions due to concerns about the effects of buses - up to 25 a day in mid-summer - on shellfish and other marine life.

TVNZ has reported that Far North iwi Te Rarawa is considering making people pay to use Te Oneroa a Tohe/Ninety Mile Beach when it comes under the control of a new co-governance board next year.

The board, which will include representatives from iwi, councils and the local community board, is part of a multi-million-dollar settlement with Te Rarawa and three other Te Hiku iwi. Currently different parts of the beach are controlled by the Far North District Council, Northland Regional Council and DoC.


While the settlement will change the way the beach is managed, Mr Davis said he had been assured claims iwi were preparing to charge for access were "simply scaremongering" and "a beat up".

"Our access to fish and to gather seafood from the beach is secure," Mr Davis said.
The chairman of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa, Haami Piripi, said charging the public for access would be contrary to what the iwi was hoping to achieve once it had a say in how the beach was managed.

"We don't think it's a good idea. It would put the wrong emphasis on the work we're trying to undertake."

Mr Piripi said the iwi wanted to protect the beach and revitalise it, not just for recreation and as a source of food, but also as a community and cultural resource.

Commercialisation of the beach would be the "total antithesis" of those goals, he said.
The new co-governance board, Te Oneroa a Tohe Beach Board, was expected to come into force in May, depending on when Parliament passes the Te Hiku Settlement Bill.

Its first task would be to create a management plan addressing urgent issues such as the number of heavy vehicles on the beach. Their impact on shellfish, crustaceans and cultural values - for example on Te Ara Wairua, the spiritual pathway that ran the length of the beach - had to be reduced, for example by making buses use alternative routes through the forest at certain times.

"At the end of the day the board will establish an iwi presence that hasn't been seen on the beach for a long, long time," he said.

The TVNZ item also mentioned a vehicle ban on Coopers Beach. That ban is not related to iwi but was a council measure to protect beach-goers after hoons were involved in a number of near-misses with children playing on the beach last summer.