Blue Spring cafe and job dreams halted by rul­ing

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

Ap­proval has been given to build a func­tion cen­tre and restau­rant near Pu­taruru’s pop­u­lar Blue Spring - but the woman be­hind it isn’t happy.

Ch­eryl Waite has been try­ing for around a year to get ap­proval to build a restau­rant, cafe and ac­com­mo­da­tion on her prop­erty which sits next to the pop­u­lar Te Wai­hou Blue Spring.

But af­ter months of con­tro­versy, be­tween lo­cal iwi Raukawa and self-made mil­lion­aire Waite, an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sioner panel de­clined con­sent for the cafe.

The panel deemed that day­time ac­tiv­i­ties would have ad­verse en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects on the wider Te Wai­hou area where the Blue Spring is lo­cated. The stance was sup­ported by The Raukawa Set­tle­ment Trust.

How­ever, ap­proval was granted for a func­tion cen­tre and restau­rant with open­ing hours from 5pm to 1am for a max­i­mum of 120 peo­ple.

As was the hir­ing of a former wool­shed for pri­vate func­tions from 5pm to 1am for a max­i­mum of 60 peo­ple, along with ac­com­mo­da­tion for up to 15 peo­ple in the wool­shed and three ad­ja­cent cab­ins.

Waite said there was no point in open­ing if there wasn’t a cafe, be­cause the hours wouldn’t work in the South Waikato.

She planned to now ap­peal the de­ci­sion which she said she was dumb­founded by as she was at­tempt­ing to mit­i­gate any ad­verse ef­fects by plant­ing $3000 worth of na­tive trees, pro­vid­ing toi­lets, and rub­bish fa­cil­i­ties to stop lit­ter­ing from the abun­dance of tourists who are al­ready vis­it­ing the spring.

There would also have been a op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal iwi to run guided tours to teach vis­i­tors about the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance, sale of Maori sou­venirs, and em­ploy­ment for up to 12 peo­ple.

Waite said it’s never been about mak­ing money for her­self, as she doesn’t need it.

She said she sim­ply wanted a com­mu­nity cry­ing out for jobs to ben­e­fit from it.

‘‘I thought logic would have pre­vailed in the de­ci­sion but for some rea­son it hasn’t,’’ she said.

South Waikato mayor Jenny Shat­tock said it was not the out­come she ex­pected ei­ther.

‘‘To be hon­est I am dis­ap­pointed but I do un­der­stand the is­sues for Maori,’’ she said.

Raukawa en­vi­ron­ment group man­ager Grant Ket­tle said an in­crease in vis­i­tors was not wanted and Raukawa re­mained op­posed to the ap­pli­ca­tion.

LUKE KIRKEBY

Planned cafe own­ers Ch­eryl Waite and part­ner Robert Blows feel tourism needs to be bet­ter ac­com­mo­dated for in the South Waikato.

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