Mayor calls for resolution on Five Mile Bay access dispute
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas is calling for a ‘full and final’ resolution on an access dispute at Five Mile Bay Recreation Reserve which has seen ongoing tensions between landowners and path users.
The call follows allegations of abuse and vandalism from both sides, and concerns that things may escalate to violence if a resolution is not found.
The land in question borders the Great Lake Pathway from Wharewaka Point to the Five Mile Bay Lakefront, and was formerly administered by the Department of Conservation. It was transferred to Ngati Tuwharetoa in 2019 as part of their treaty settlement with the Crown. Part of the transfer included two parcels that retained recreation reserve status with a requirement to allow public access. However, the new administering body stopped vehicular access by erecting a gate early last year, resulting in a fence being installed to help people identify the public access areas.
Mr Trewavas said he recognised that it had been important to allow time for those with mana whenua over the land to be identified and to reconnect following its return. “But now, it is equally important for the intention of the Crown to allow public to access the recreational reserve to be honoured,” he said.
The council had been working with the administering body Te Kotahitanga o Ngati Tuwharetoa, the Department of Conservation and Te Arawhiti, the office for Māori Crown Relations, for 12 months in the aim of reaching a resolution but one had not been found.
It is understood a meeting is to be held between Te Kotahitanga o Ngati Tuwharetoa and both the Crown agencies this weekend. “We need a resolution once and for all,” said Mr Trewavas. “This is causing unnecessary division in our community and that is not good for anyone. I encourage anyone threatened on either side to contact Police by calling 111.”