New Chums Beach trust gets $200,000 grant
A trust that saved a piece of untouched coastal land in Coromandel is now appealing to government agencies to help pay off a million-dollar loan.
New Zealand Coastal Trust began fundraising to purchase the 30 hectares of land at the northern end of Wainuiototo Bay – also known as New Chums Beach – last year, after it went up for sale in September.
The people behind the trust secured ‘‘significant’’ loans to purchase the headland so it couldn’t be developed. The loans came from three individuals – on top of the raised funds – who agreed to underwrite the offer pending the result of grant applications to other entities.
The Waikato Regional Council is the first to have approved a grant of $200,000 behind closed doors last Thursday and will ‘‘consider’’ giving a further $200,000 from its Natural Heritage Fund at the end of the year, a statement said.
The Department of Conservation has also been approached.
Wainuiototo Bay, near Whangapoua, was a privately owned beach isolated from development.
For the past decade, developers attempted to subdivide the catchment, but their every move has been strongly opposed by Coromandel locals.
The 30ha property was tendered for sale on behalf of receivers appointed by the Bank of New Zealand after Galt Nominees, owned by businessman George Kerr, defaulted on a mortgage.
The purchase was made by the New Zealand Coastal Trust with support from mana whenua, Preserve New Chum for Everyone, the Whangapoua Beach Ratepayers Association, and the Environmental Defence Society.
In November, the trust applied for $500,000 from Waikato Regional Council’s Narural Heritage Fund, reducing the request to $400,000. The fund is derived from a portion of the Natural Heritage Targeted Rate which is $5.80 per property.
Despite the huge public interest in the item, Waikato Regional Council said the matter was discussed in a public excluded meeting because there was information in the report that was not publicly available.
Stuff understands the information relates to the land’s Environment Court decision, which has been ongoing for the past two years.
During the meeting, concerns were raised by councillors about whether a grant of $400,000 would deplete the Natural Heritage Fund and compromise the ability to support any other applications for funds.
Councillors voted 9-5 to give the trust $200,000, and for the new council to consider granting an additional $200,000 in December 2022. Councillors Stu Husband, Pamela Storey, Fred Lichtwark, Kathy White and Hugh Vercoe voted against the motion.
Waikato Regional Council chairperson Russ Rimmington said there was overall support for the grant, but councillors had sought a reassurance from the trust that with public funds would come public access.
‘‘This is a piece of New Zealand paradise, and it’s clear why so many have contributed to protect it. But by committing public money it’s assumed there will be a way for the wider community to enjoy it too.’’
The trust confirmed this during the meeting, but said the land is rugged and tracks may have limited accessibility. It is considering various aspects of related public access, education/ interpretation and community involvement in the management of the land block. Any development of walking tracks will need to consider forest health and avoid the potential for kauri dieback spread, councillors were told.
It is expected the trust and its local partners will raise funds as required for things such as ongoing pest and weed management and interpretive signage.
‘‘This is a piece of New Zealand paradise, and it’s clear why somany have contributed to protect it. But by committing public money it’s assumed there will be a way for the wider community to enjoy it too. ’’
Waikato Regional Council chairperson