Blue Spring cafe and job dreams halted by ruling
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.
Planned cafe owners Cheryl Waite and partner Robert Blows feel tourism needs to be better accommodated for in the South Waikato.