Public access to one of the Taupō District's most special places has been retained, thanks to an agreement between the Taupō District Council and the Rangatira Point Block Incorporation.
Last Friday, the council and the owners of the Rangatira Point Block signed a lease to allow public access to the 18.75ha parcel of land which the Rangatira Point walking track runs across. It leads to Whakamoenga Point Reserve, a popular area for swimming in summer and photography year-round.
The lease is for an initial period of 10 years with two rights of renewal for five years. The cost of the lease is $63,000 per annum plus GST.
The agreement has come about after council last year resolved to enter into negotiations with the trust that owns the block after funding constraints meant the previous leaseholder Department of Conservation (DoC) could not renew its lease.
Council chief executive Gareth Green said the trustees approached the council last year and after discussions, the council resolved to enter into a lease to ensure continued public access to the block.
"We agreed to pick up the cost and DoC will still do track maintenance, however for us locally it's a really significant recreational asset - $63,000 pales into insignificance compared to the value of the land for people," Mr Green said.
"The ownership of the land stays with the owners and the mana of the land stays with the owners which is just great."
At the signing ceremony at Rauhoto Marae, trust chairman Tom Loughlin thanked everybody for their work in getting the agreement in place and said ultimately the kaupapa was about the land and for everybody to keep enjoying it in the future.
"It's hugely exciting because we've got a blank canvas - there's a whole new relationship, we're covering new ground together and it really is amazing and exciting.
"The whole notion of what we have started here working together with pristine land like that, the location and the opportunity for our people to share it and use it, all our visitors everybody to share and use it.
"I think that creates an example for how we are moving around the lake and I think that's really cool and an amazing thing and there are a whole lot of positives in there."
Mr Loughlin said the trust had a long-term environmental strategy for the block and had already started eradicating the wilding pines on it. That would be followed by a native tree planting in late July. There may also be storyboards telling of the history of the land and its people.
Mr Green says the council's future plans include improved car parking and toilets, but for now the purpose of the agreement was to ensure continued public access.
"It starts that conversation and relationship about what the future holds for the site."