A committee has been established to oversee the future of a popular Lake Taupō reserve, with the aim of restoring the mana of its ancestral owners Ngāti Te Rangiita.
The Taupō District Council ultimately decided to push ahead with the make up of the committee that will oversee the review of the Motutere Reserve Management Plan, despite concerns from some councillors over conflict of interest.
The committee includes an even mix of councillors and Ngāti Te Rangiita representatives, but no representatives from any of the other stakeholders in the area, including the owners of the Motutere Bay Top 10 Holiday Park which has been there since the early 1980s.
Ngāti Te Rangiita, a hapū of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, is the mana whenua of Motutere.
The Motutere Recreation Reserve has been administered by Taupō District Council, the Department of Conservation, and Waka Kotahi, which manages SH 1 that runs through part of the reserve and borders other parts.
The Motutere Recreation Reserve Management Plan Committee would oversee the review process and make recommendations back to the council which would make the final decision.
Councillor Christine Rankin said at the Taupō District Council meeting on September 26 that the process had been unfair to date.
“I think this whole thing is messy and everyone has been treated badly, unfairly through this process ... I think this is going to cause a lot of perceived conflict [of interest] and I don’t feel comfortable with this.”
Cr Duncan Campbell had similar concerns, particularly in relation to the owners of the campground, which sits on leased land on the reserve.
“In the interests of fairness, either have the campground and the hapu. I mean the campground has been there the last 50 years. Either have both or neither, seems fair enough to me.”
Councillor Kevin Taylor said in terms of the “users or any commercial entity”, it was not a question of whether they would be heard.
“They will be heard and they will have every opportunity to have their say and be heard in detail. This is about who sits at the table and makes recommendations to us as full council.”
Ultimately the council decided to allow the Motutere Recreation Reserve Management Plan Committee to oversee the review process but the recommendations would need to come back to the council for a final decision.
The first round of consultation would invite stakeholders, including campground users, to provide suggestions on the use, enjoyment and maintenance of the reserve, and those suggestions would help form the revised plan. The second round will invite feedback on the draft plan.
The committee would be made up of Taupō District councillors Deputy Mayor Kevin Taylor, Danny Loughlin, and Sandra Greenslade, and Ngāti Te Rangiita representatives Aroha French, Maru Maniapoto, and Jade Wikaira.
Background to Motutere
A report by policy adviser Haydee Wood highlighted the fact that Ngāti Te Rangiita had a “strong cultural, spiritual, environmental, waahi tapu connection to the land, from the 1700s until 1936.
“Motutere Bay provided an access point for canoe travel to pā and urupā located on nearby Motutaiko Island where the Chief Rangituamatotoru and whanau lay at rest.
“Motutere Bay also included the reserve along SH1. This was once an Urupa, but all Tupapaku were exhumed and now lay at rest on Motutaiko Island.
“Motutere Bay still contains taonga along with places and features of deep significance to hapū and Iwi.
“A Sacred Altar stone stands at the tip of Motutere Bay named Mahurehure which was made sacrosanct by Ngatoro-i-rangi, and was used for ceremonial purposes.
“There is a sacred rock named Te Pueaea that is now submerged but never used to be, in the Lake at the tip of Motutere Point.
“Te Pueaea was the ceremonial burial Rock used to prepare the Hapu Tupapaku (deceased) for mumification in preparation for their final burial destination, Motutaiko Island.
“The land was proclaimed as Crown land in 1937.
“In the 1950′s some of the land was set aside as a reserve and the reserve was then vested in the County Council.
“In the 1980s the reserve was classified as recreation reserve under the Act. and a portion of the land was leased by the County Council for a Holiday Park.
“Camping has taken place around the lake since the 1930′s, including on Motutere reserve land.
“Ngāti Tūwharetoa sought to have ownership of the Motutere recreation reserve returned to Ngāti Te Rangiita through the Treaty settlement process. That was not possible as the matter only came to their attention late in the negotiations with the Crown.
“Subsequently, Ngāti Te Rangiita, the Department of Conservation, and Council have investigated mechanisms to redress this matter.
“Vesting of the reserve has been identified as an option under section 26 of the Reserves Act 1977 (the Act).
“That would make the hapū responsible for the administration of the recreation reserve.
“The parties have agreed to investigate this further before any decisions were made.
“Under section 41 of the Act, the administering body of a recreation reserve is required to prepare a Reserve Management Plan (RMP).
“The current RMP was adopted in 2004 and it is considered necessary that this document be reviewed before there is any change in administration. The review process would be done in partnership with Ngāti Te Rangiita, recognising their role as kaitiaki of Motutere and ensuring that the cultural significance of the reserve is captured appropriately.
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