Ngāti Hei has lifted its rāhui at Cathedral Cove but also reaffirmed its support for the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) closure of tracks in the interests of visitor safety.
The iwi placed a rāhui over Cathedral Cove in February, after Cyclone Gabrielle damaged tracks to the cove and washed away built structures at the bottom of the track which gives access to the cove.
Ngāti Hei Kaumatua, Joe Davis today publicly voiced his concern manuhiri (visitors) would be putting themselves at risk by using tracks which DOC had closed to manage risk to visitors created by rockfall and landslides.
The tīkanga to lift the rāhui was completed last week.
“Ngāti Hei still believes the whenua needs a rest,” Joe said. “We still care about the well-being of people engaging with this important cultural site – and we urge people to respect DOC’s restrictions on access.”
He says Ngāti Hei, like DOC staff, are aware people continue to disregard track closure advice and find ways of accessing the beach from the land, including creating their own paths through the bush.
“We’re concerned people are putting themselves in harm’s way by ignoring the warnings. We do not want anyone getting hurt at Cathedral Cove, and we cannot manage visitors’ health and safety if they choose not to pay attention to the warnings.”
“We want to add our voice to DOC’s risk advocacy for Cathedral Cove and encourage people to stay off the tracks and the reserve land immediately surrounding the beach.”
DOC Coromandel Operations Manager, Nick Kelly said the Department appreciates people still want to see Cathedral Cove, but urged them “see it from the sea”.
“As we’ve repeatedly stated, there is a very real risk of potentially harmful rockfall and erosion at this beach. DOC has a responsibility to manage and publicise that risk, which is what we’ve been doing.
“A particular concern for us is the type of visitors who traditionally go to Cathedral Cove – they’re day-trippers looking for a safe and easy walk to a beach. With damaged tracks and the risk of landslides and rockfall, it’s not suitable for this type of visitors who’ve traditionally gone there,” he said.
Work to decommission the toilets on the beach has also begun this week.
DOC staff have finalised the installation of signage which warns of the rock fall risk identified in an independent report provided to DOC by Tonkin + Taylor, which is published on the DOC website.
Visitors planning to access Cathedral Cove from the sea are advised to inform themselves of the risk on the beach, and to take into account weather, sea and tide conditions before attempting to land.
DOC says it is working on options to reimagine the Cathedral Cove/Hahei conservation experience, factoring in the impacts of climate change and the need to make sensible investments in long-term resilient solutions.