Friday, July 19, 2024

Hut rebuild could be years away

DOC local Iwi, Federated Mountain Clubs and Back Country Trust are in discussions regarding a potential rebuild of the popular Lake Dive Hut in Egmont National Park which burnt down in 2020.

A man charged with lighting the fire that destroyed the 16-bunk hut is now before the courts.

The DOC team is keen to see the hut replaced and staff are looking at possible options to achieve this, said Senior Ranger Visitors and Heritage, Dave Rogers.

“We recognise it leaves a fairly big gap in the backcountry hut network on that side of the mountain,” he said.

“Due to its stunning location and views of Taranaki Maunga, Lake Dive hut was a popular overnight destination.

“But like any organisation, DOC has a limited amount of funding – so we’re exploring rebuild options with potential partners.”

DOC staff have been in discussion with Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) representatives, as the organisation’s members want to see the hut replaced, Mr Rogers said.

Megan Dimozantos is an executive member for Federated Mountain Clubs, and also Back Country Trust North Island Project Coordinator. She says the trust is open to the possibility of a joint project, a community approach where skilled volunteers provide time to assist with the rebuild, and/or the possibility of seeking philanthropic funding, or materials for the project.

“There are a number of groups committed to trying to bring the rebuild of Lake Dive hut to fruition and although these discussions are promising, they are by no means a guarantee the rebuild will go ahead.”

The hut rebuild is estimated to cost anywhere between $450k-$800k, depending on design and engineering requirements.

“Given the nature of the environment where the hut is situated, and the requirements for consultation, engineering and architecture, a hut rebuild will most certainly not occur for another couple of years.”

“We acknowledge people’s desire to see a new hut, and appreciate the public’s understanding a realistic approach is required given the massive amount of work involved with building a new hut, especially in an alpine environment,” Mr Rogers said.

Megan Dimonzantos adds: “Given I work in huts and tracks maintenance, I’d say we need to be realistic about time frames. A hut rebuild is a huge undertaking. Finding funding, consulting relevant stakeholders, finding the right people to do the work, working in with poor weather, harsh conditions and helicopter access all add to the complexity, and that’s before we take into account the current shortage of building materials.

“If a rebuild does go ahead, I wouldn’t expect to see any new piles in the ground until the Summer of 2022-23 at the very earliest. I agree it’s frustrating a solution can’t be more immediate. But for the time being, I feel comfortable that DOC is doing all it can to move things in the right direction.”

Lake Dive Hut is located in an area of shared interest for both Taranaki and Ngāruahine iwi. In a joint statement Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust and Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust welcomed the opportunity to work with DOC to reconnect their uri with the mātauranga and relationships associated with the area.

“The integration of cultural narratives and employment opportunities in any design and construction works are also a central focus which provides for the developing relationship with the Department as our treaty partner,” they said in a statement.

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