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Craggy Range Winery’s new public track zig-zags up the face of Te Mata Peak in Hawke’s Bay – a great idea in the wrong place

Editorial – February / March’18

Cultural sensitivity can be a minefield when it comes to planning new infrastructure, most recently demonstrated by the track built by the Craggy Range Winery on land they own on Te Mata Peak in Hawke’s Bay.

It’s not the first instance of when good infrastructure goes bad. Great idea, wrong place. Most of our early state highways were bulldozed through the country with little regard for Maori sites of significance.

Today, our roading developers are far more culturally aware and respectful of our past. For the Waikato Expressway, for example, which traverses many areas that are important to Waikato-Tainui, the NZ Transport Agency has committed to working in partnership with local iwi at every stage of the construction process.

What a shame then that Craggy Range Winery went ahead and built a public track that zig-zags up the face of Te Mata Peak – which is designated an ‘outstanding natural feature’ under the Hastings District Council’s new district plan and has ancestral significance for Ngati Kahungunu – without consulting with the local iwi. The track – described by one local resident – made it look as if the peak had had open heart surgery.

Furore erupted, and in an about-face just before Christmas, Craggy Range Winery issued a press release, saying they had decided that the best resolution was to remove the track and restore the land. “We never intended to alienate or divide any part of our community by developing the track,” Mike Wilding, chief executive said.

The issue came about, he said, because Hastings District Council chose not to publicly notify their consent application to develop the track into the upper reaches of the peak. “We were surprised to find out that council hadn’t consulted with mana whenua in the consent application process,” Mr Wilding stated. “We’re sorry for the distress we have caused them, especially because we went into this project believing it was a positive thing to do for the community.”

Had the winery held that round-table with the local iwi in the planning and design stages long before the track went to the consent stage, someone might have pointed out that perhaps this wasn’t the best idea, and what has turned out be an expensive exercise in construction and remediation could have been averted.

In this day and age, when cultural diversity is one of the cornerstones of our education system, where teaching involves helping students to understand and respect diverse viewpoints, values, customs and languages, there is no excuse for cultural insensitivity when it comes to building New Zealand infrastructure.

Until next time …
Lynne Richardson, editor

LRichardson@astonpublishing.co.nz


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