Letter to the editor - Wanaka Sun | Wanaka Sun (page 15) 13 - 19 April 2017
In response to the March 23 article “Hunter Valley Station access conditions misrepresented”:
The access groups have not misrepresented the access conditions. They are dismayed with the poor outcome delivered to the New Zealand public by the OIO and the minister concerned.
As the property is now unlikely to go through the Tenure Review process, this deal was a once in a lifetime opportunity to obtain key public access to a hard to reach part of the Hawea Conservation Park. (At no time did any group state that there was no other access to the park, just that this was an opportunity to substantially improve it - especially to the Hunter Valley.)
The applicant made an initial access offer which basically gifted a small section of land to formalise access over Meads Road to Kidds Bush.
This was already in hand using the Public Works Act and would have been resolved in the near future.
Also offered was an easement to secure access to the Sawyer Burn Hut.
This has some value, but the track could have been realigned onto conservation land if necessary.
The other access offered, which is the area of concern to the access groups, was the "continuation of the existing access" beyond Kidds Bush along the legal road and then the farm road, to the Hunter Valley, on a "discretionary” basis.
Access parties are aware this access was rarely granted. Secure and enduring access to the Hunter Valley was the most important outcome desired.
There was an understanding that legitimate farming issues had to be addressed in this access arrangement, and a clear and transparent management agreement was prepared by the Walking Access Commission to address these issues.
The Walking Access Commission (WAC) prepared a report and made nine recommendations.
At the time of submission it stated the first six of these had been agreed in principle with the applicant.
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Access parties were disappointed to see the OIO basically accepted the applicant’s original offer, with some very minor additions, and effectively ignored all the discussion which had taken place and the additional access which had been agreed in principle as part of those discussions.
Only two of the nine recommendations were met in full, and two more partially met, but with access on a "discretionary" basis there is no security of access at all.
The Upper Clutha Tracks Trust made an additional submission supporting the WAC recommendations and requesting the development of a few huts along the lines of those on the Motatapu Track - which came out of the OIO process for the purchase of Motatapu and Soho Stations.
Whilst this would have been an excellent outcome, the most important issue was to secure clear, transparent and enduring access along the lake edge to Hunter Valley.
The access provided here as per the OIO conditions is a “Clayton’s access”.
Access groups will be contacting the purchaser directly in the hope of improving this situation.
I don't believe they have misrepresented the value (or lack of it) in the deal.
John Wellington, Wanaka (Abridged)
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Related: Letter to the editor: Time to act for access Wanaka Sun (30 March 2017)
Future access to Kidds Bush Wanaka Sun (March 2017)
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