‘Urgent action’ on track removal
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.