Hawke's Bay iwi are disappointed Craggy Range has made further proposals for the Te Mata track without consideration of the cultural implications of any ongoing developments.

Following public outcry after the track was built, Craggy Range chief executive Mike Wilding resolved in December last year to remove the track and restore the land.

At the time he said the winery had discussions with iwi representatives that gave them a deeper appreciation for mana whenua concerns that no consultation was undertaken over and above the council process to approve the track.

Te Mata Track has been used regularly since its opening and closure. Photo / File
Te Mata Track has been used regularly since its opening and closure. Photo / File

This week, however, Craggy Range announced it had met with interested parties to present an expert landscape report it had commissioned, which found rehabilitation could not fully return the landscape to its pre-construction condition, that remediation could make it worse.

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It suggested the best option could be to allow for a section of the eastern slope to be rehabilitated into a natural habitat delivering significantly improved and sustainable outcomes, including enhancing biodiversity and bird habitat, while reducing the visibility of the track.

The landscape report was independently reviewed by Shannon Bray of Wayfinder Landscape Planning and Strategy.

In that review, Bray noted that commentary had been provided in the report on the cultural value of Te Mata Peak, but that a specific cultural impact assessment has not been commissioned or provided.

"I am aware that Ngāti Kahungunu have cultural associations with the eastern side of the peak (where the track is located) that are not fully explained in the public domain.

"I would anticipate that through ongoing dialogue with Ngāti Kahungunu such values can be better understood, and appropriate measures can be considered through a collaborative process."

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Waimarama mana whenua Robert MacDonald attended the meeting with Craggy Range, with Hastings District Council, Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Te Mata Park Trust representatives and said the new proposals were unexpected.

"As far as iwi was concerned remediating the track was the direction Craggy Range was going to take, and our position has not changed.

"You deal with people and you expect them to be honourable and say what they mean, and then they say something else.

"It's disappointing - if Craggy Range had acted in good faith from the start we would not have this problem."

Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Te Kaihautū Marei Apatu said it was remiss of the winery not to talk to iwi, who had been under the impression the track would be remediated.

"Our position has clearly been that we want reasonable practical remedial steps taken to fill the track back in - that's our bottom line proposition.

"It was my understanding and that of others from mana whenua since February this year that this was going to be the process going forward - not to come back with five other options."

He said that in earlier discussions iwi had been forthcoming with steps on how Craggy Range could keep mana whenua in the loop and understand the cultural issues.

"They have chosen to ignore that and go on another leg of the journey - it's a demonstration of arrogance."

With Craggy Range putting the ball back in the court of the Hastings District Council and mana whenua to sort out, Apatu noted the council had admitted it got it wrong after an independent review found it should have considered cultural values before approving the resource consent for the track to be built.

"From my perspective they have to step up and be accountable, they have said they got it completely wrong, all it will take is a will between the council and Craggy Range to remediate it - there will be a cost but it's one practical solution and I hope they end up on the same side of the page as us."

Straddling both his role as a Hastings District Councillor and mana whenua, Bayden Barber said it was a tough situation and that he was surprised that after all this time the winery had not conducted any cultural impact assessment.

"If they were wanting to talk to mana whenua and iwi in good faith they should have covered that off - at least come to the table with an appreciation of what Maori are talking about and what was important to them.

"This is about relationships and this makes it very difficult."

Craggy Range chief executive Mike Wilding said that in January the winery made a commitment to the council and mana whenua to get expert advice on what practical remediation would involve.

He said interested parties had been kept up-to-date every few weeks since then.

"We only received the first draft of the landscape report ourselves in the middle of last week and our focus was to release it to the stakeholder group as soon as possible."

He said the winery wanted to meet with mana whenua first but the council called for all parties to be briefed together.

"Like iwi, we were fully expecting to be able to present the process for removing the track to the group, but the expert analysis shows that removing the track is not as simple as we or anyone, including mana whenua, first thought and nor would it achieve an outcome to everyone's satisfaction."

He said the requirement for a cultural impact assessment rested within the district plan that set out a framework by which all values were considered, and against which resource consents were assessed.

Craggy Range's legal expert John Maassen said the requirement for a cultural impact assessment for every activity on a working landscape was not justified.

"I would like to know how many cultural impact statements the council and iwi have demanded for any activity requiring a consent on Te Mata Peak.

"I would suggest this has never happened."

Earlier this year the Hastings District Council announced that intended to do a review of the district plan, with the aim of addressing such issues.

A council spokesperson said the council was pleased to see the reports as had been promised by Craggy Range.

"Council has asked for further information and once this has been received we will take time to fully consider all information fully before we can make any further comments.

"We will continue to work closely with the other parties to ensure the best outcome is reached."