‘Ur­gent ac­tion’ on track re­moval

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

A new re­port from in­de­pen­dent safety ex­perts has prompted “ur­gent ac­tion” to re­move a seg­ment of the con­tro­ver­sial Craggy Range track.

Hast­ings Dis­trict Coun­cil has an­nounced plans to re­move the “dan­ger­ous” sec­tion of the win­ery’s dam­aged track lo­cated on the top 500m.

That work will be fi­nanced by the dis­trict coun­cil, cost­ing an es­ti­mated $50,000 to $60,000. Work was ex­pected to be­gin next week and take up to seven days.

Craggy Range built the track af­ter re­source con­sent was granted by the coun­cil last year, with­out in­form­ing lo­cal iwi. Ten­sions reached boil­ing point be­fore, in May, both par­ties set­tled a deal, with both pur­chas­ing 28ha of land on the east­ern face of the peak, close to the ex­ist­ing track, and build­ing a new one.

How­ever, in July, the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence So­ci­ety an­nounced it would take the coun­cil and the win­ery to the High Court over the de­ci­sion which led to the track be­ing cut.

The de­ci­sion to ur­gently re­move part of the track fol­lows the re­lease of an in­de­pen­dent re­port com­mis­sioned by the coun­cil and car­ried out by civil en­gi­neer­ing firm Frame Group Lim­ited.

The re­port said the cur­rent state of the Craggy Range track could re­sult in “se­ri­ous in­jury or loss of life as a re­sult of re­tain­ing wall col­lapse, fall­ing rocks and slips”.

The coun­cil’s act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive, Neil Tay­lor, said the re­port find­ings were a “ma­jor con­cern” and ur­gent work was needed to re­move any risk to the pub­lic.

Tay­lor said his de­ci­sion to in­voke sec­tion 330 of the Re­source Man­age­ment Act (re­lat­ing to emer­gency works) was sup­ported by le­gal ad­vice.

The track was only par­tially com­pleted and was not for­mally opened for pub­lic use. It has been fenced off for sev­eral months be­cause of in­creased safety con­cerns.

How­ever, Tay­lor said some track users had ig­nored warn­ings by climb­ing over the bar­rier fences, and us­ing the track de­spite its un­safe con­di­tion.

“Tres­passers are risk­ing death or in­jury, and an ur­gent re­sponse is es­sen­tial.”

Craggy Range chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Wild­ing said it was fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing an “al­ter­na­tive and su­pe­rior” track in part­ner­ship with Nga¯ ti Kahun­gunu.

“Our fo­cus is to con­tinue work­ing with all stake­hold­ers to de­velop an al­ter­na­tive, and su­pe­rior track, that recog­nises and pro­tects ar­eas of cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance and al­lows recre­ational ac­cess on the East­ern side of Te Mata Peak,” Wild­ing said.

Nga¯ ti Kahun­gunu Iwi In­cor­po­rated chair­man Ngahiwi To­moana said re­mov­ing the seg­ment of the track was the “proper thing to do”.

“We have a long-term vi­sion around that area and we in­tend to carry on work­ing with all in­volved to achieve things for the iwi and for the com­mu­nity as a whole.

“There seems to be a lot more un­der­stand­ing of all the is­sues now, whereas we were all po­larised around our dif­fer­ent sets of val­ues be­fore,” To­moana said.

The closed Craggy Range track.

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