29 Dec 2017

Woman fights to keep controversial Te Mata Peak track

9:22 am on 29 December 2017

A Waimarama woman is fighting back against plans to remove a track snaking up Te Mata Peak near Havelock North.

The track up Te Mata Peak has earned criticism from iwi.

The track up Te Mata Peak has earned criticism from iwi. Photo: Supplied / Peter Fowler

A local winery which built the track has agreed to remove it after pressure from the Hawke's Bay iwi Ngāti Kahungunu.

But Rebecca McNeur said trying to remove the track would cause further environmental damage.

"Gravel would have to be removed," she said.

"It is quite steep, the soil would have to be brought back in and there is 2.4 kilometres of track to fill in.

"Unless the soil is compacted to the same level as the earth underneath it, rain will wash it away and create a real mess and leave a big scar on the landscape."

Ms McNeur has organised a petition signed by 6100 people calling for the Hastings District Council not to remove the track.

She said she would present that to the council and hope that nothing is done until the matter can be looked at again in another six months.

Rebecca McNeur added having another walking track in the region would be a benefit for healthy recreation.

Meanwhile Ngāti Kahungunu leader Ngahiwi Tomoana said the track disfigured a mountain which depicted the reclining figure of an ancestral chief.

He wanted it removed and was glad that Craggy Range Winery had agreed to do so.

He also rejected a suggestion this track would be valuable for people getting healthy by getting lots of exercise, saying they could get that exercise elsewhere.

People flocked to use the track earlier this week after its closure was announced.

The new track has proved popular with locals. About 30 cars were counted parked at the base yesterday.

The new track has proved popular with locals. About 30 cars were counted parked at the base yesterday. Photo: Supplied / Peter Fowler

Craggy Range Winery, which created the track, announced it would remove it in response to anger from the tribe.

Mr Tomoana said he had been assured by the winery that it would restore the land and he expected that to happen.

Craggy Range chief executive Michael Wilding earlier apologised about the new track.

"We never intended to alienate or divide any part of our community by developing the public track and we believe it is in the best interests of the broader community that a swift resolution occurs," Mr Wilding said.

Mr Tomoana said he wanted the track removed as soon as possible and would be meeting the winery within a few days to discuss it further.