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Ramp upgrade held up by process issue

Work to repair the Te Puka boat ramp was stopped after an objection was raised by Nga Hapu o Tokomaru Akau (NHOTA).

NHOTA represent the hapu of Tokomaru Bay. A major concern for NHOTA is Gisborne District Council (GDC) did not notify them about the resource consent for the boat ramp work.

Contractors were working on the Te Puka boat ramp in Tokomaru Bay to make it wider at the top end, and install a hand rail.

The Te Puka Hunting and Fishing Club raised the necessary funding for the repairs and upgrade to the ramp. This included a grant from Eastland Community Trust (ECT) and a contribution from the club’s own savings.

Resource consent was granted by GDC and two local kaumatua were consulted, but not NHOTA representatives.

Work had already started when NHOTA raised an objection.

NHOTA lawyer Darrell Naden said GDC was obligated by law to contact NHOTA before the resource consent was granted.

“Due process was not followed by GDC.”

NHOTA are the authorised representatives before the High Court in relation to the application they filed in April 2017 under the Marine and Coastal Area Act 2011 (MACA) for recognition of their residual customary rights and interests in the foreshore and seabed, he said.

Mr Naden said NHOTA were not against progress but in addition to NHOTA not being notified, an engineer’s report had not been done and the boat ramp was in the vicinity of wahi tapu — a place sacred to Maori.

Mr Naden said GDC knew NHOTA should have been contacted because they were notified in this regard in April last year. Also, a meeting was held later in 2017 between NHOTA representatives and GDC to discuss the MACA application.

“When foreshore and seabed-related resource applications were made for Tokomaru Bay, it was up to GDC to contact NHOTA to discuss them.

“That did not happen until after the boat ramp work had begun”.

A spokesperson for Te Puka Hunting and Fishing Club said the boat ramp was deteriorating rapidly, and was a much-used piece of infrastructure, owned by GDC but available to the entire community at no charge.

It needed work to make it safer and improve access from Beach Road.

The club worked with GDC to gain necessary consents, a process that included consultation with iwi.

“If representative groups were missed in this process, then the club apologises but it was not an intentional oversight.”

The club and GDC had since met with the hapu representative.

Work was stopped between the end of stage 1 and the start of stage 2.

It is hoped by the time work resumes, the club has the blessing of all groups within the community to deliver this community asset.