A proposed plan change to prohibit new buildings on the eastern face of Te Matā Peak, from Waimārama Rd to the top, has been adopted by Hastings District Council.
Council says the aim of the plan change is to acknowledge and protect the significance and value of the natural landscape for both current and future generations.
Te Matā is especially important to mana whenua who consider it a taonga imbued with whakapapa and important cultural significance, it said.
Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said the proposed plan change came about in the wake of the building of the Craggy Range Track. The track, which was granted consent by Hastings District Council, prompted serious objections from mana whenua and resulted in a costly remediation programme.
“This situation was divisive for our community, and showed us the importance of having clarity about what can and can’t be done on outstanding natural landscapes, particularly Te Mata Peak which is arguably our region’s most significant,” said Mayor Hazlehurst.
“The proposed plan change is a legacy decision, ensuring comprehensive and long-lasting protection of the natural attributes of this landscape.”
Hastings District Council Heretaunga Takato Noa Māori standing committee member, Mike Paku said mana whenua had been working since December 2017 to get the appropriate protection regulatory framework in place.
“There have been numerous discussions and hui since that time, and mana whenua have never wavered in our determination or commitment to achieving this outcome,” he said.
“This achievement also comes with a tinge of sadness that a number of staunch kaumātua – Ata Morrell, Waa Harris, Robert McDonald – to name a few, are no longer with us to witness the establishment of the prohibition line.
“The numerous hapū of Te Matā o Rongokako mihi to the two current landowners for their recognition of mana whenua aspirations for permanent protection of our maunga Tūpuna.”
The proposed plan change would prohibit the construction of new buildings and limit other works (eg: fencing and planting) on the eastern escarpment of Te Matā, from Waimārama Rd to the top of the peak.
In addition, the proposed changes would help ensure Council met its obligations under Part 2 of the Resource Management Act 1991, by ensuring that the relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wāhi tapu and other taonga were appropriately recognised and provided for.
There are two private properties affected by the change: 282 Waimārama Rd and 344 Waimārama Rd.
The landowners at 282 Waimārama Road have a consent through a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) for the construction of two dwellings and a supplementary unit on the property. Following negotiations, the property owners have agreed to relocate the buildings to less visible locations.
The relocation has resulted in a loss of value of $351,000 incl GST as assessed by independent valuation advice and the owners have been compensated for this loss. The landowners have also voluntarily given up any further development rights on their whole property including the flats adjacent to Waimārama Road, Council said in a statement.
Both owners understand the significance of this landscape and have willingly assisted the efforts to protect the eastern face of Te Matā, it said.
Council will also provide funding support for landscape design, architectural design and associated survey costs of $30,000 plus GST to the landowners to achieve the best visual landscape and cultural outcomes.
For both properties, registered land covenants would be put in place that put rules around the planting of shelter belts, exotic forestry and fencing, to protect the natural landscape.
With its adoption today, the plan change comes into effect immediately to offer protection in the interim ahead of Council publicly notifying a change to the District Plan to move the building prohibition line to Waimārama Rd.
The Plan Change would be specific to the eastern side of Te Matā, not the western side, and confined to the building prohibition area.