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Long-awaited Te Oneroa-a-Tohe / Ninety Mile Beach plan to be released

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A long-awaited and ground-breaking formal management plan for Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe/Ninety Mile Beach formally comes into effect on Monday (subs: 25 January).

Established through Treaty of Waitangi settlement legislation in 2012, an eight-member Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Board with an even split of iwi and local government members was tasked with developing a management plan for the iconic beach.

Beach board chair Haami Piripi (Te Rarawa) says the comprehensive, Te Rautaki o Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe (Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Beach Management Plan) represents a great deal of work - including substantial public input - over the past two years in particular.

The plan - which will be available online at www.teoneroa-a-tohe.nz from Monday 25 January - covers a broad range of activities, including cultural, resource management and economic considerations and is expected to be in place for up to 10 years.

Mr Piripi says Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe/Ninety Mile Beach has great cultural, historical and spiritual significance - not just to the five local iwi who make up Te Hiku o Te Ika - but to the wider community (Māori and non-Māori alike) New Zealand-wide starting with Ta Ara Wairua (the spiritual pathway).

He says the plan contains a number of measures designed to reflect public concerns/feedback expressed to the board, including the care and safety of all users and visitors to the beach, acknowledging tangata whenua and protecting the environment.

These include:

A 30km/h speed limit within 200-metres of any beach accessway or any activity (for example boat launching, people fishing etc) on the beach

A 60km/h speed for the remainder of the beach

Requiring regional and district plans to recognise and protect Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe and Te Ara Wairua as a culturally significant landscape

The measures won’t have immediate affect - they will first need to be actioned in the relevant legal documents (eg council bylaws).

Mr Piripi says the board’s purpose is to provide governance and direction to everyone with a role in - or responsibility for - Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe management area in order to protect environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual wellbeing within that area for the benefit of present and future generations.

The board was hopeful that the plan would help undo the scars of "historical damage, neglect, pollution and abusive behaviour " that had impacted the beach.

Mr Piripi says the board’s collective focus had always been on getting the balance of the plan right, believing its importance and likely longevity meant it was not something that could be rushed.

Board members had also felt very strongly that everyone who wanted to had been able to express their views and have these considered and factored as much as possible into the final plan.

He says in broad terms; the plan reflects as best it can the collective aspirations for three priority matters;

Protecting and preserving the beach from inappropriate use and development and ensuring resources are preserved and enhanced for present and future generations

Recognising the importance of the beach for Te Hiku o Te Ika iwi/hapū and ensuring continued access to mahinga kai

Recognising and providing for spiritual, cultural and historic relationships with the beach.

"The board is proud of what we have collectively managed to have achieved on behalf of all New Zealanders. This plan is an incredible opportunity to give effect to a vision for the beach that just a few years ago many people - especially Māori - would not have thought possible."

Meanwhile, Mr Piripi says while the release of the plan represented a significant milestone, there was still a great deal of work, including significant research, that would need to be done to better understand the beach’s ecology and how human and other influences impacted on it.

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