Fears for future of Waikaremoana

Lake Waikaremoana.

A family with a history of holidaying at Lake Waikaremoana dating back more than 100 years say new management are “destroying the place”.

A significant section of the lake’s Great Walk has been closed, two water taxi services have stopped over the last year and there is concern over an increase in pests and a decrease in rubbish collection.

The whole situation is slowly imploding, says a member of the family who have been going to the lake for generations.

The lake-goer, who did not want to be named, was concerned at allegations of racism she felt could come out of the complaints.

It had nothing to do with race, she said.

“I absolutely love the place and love the people. There is an incredible problem going on up there and they are destroying the most amazing place.”

Te Urewera has replaced the name Te Urewera National Park, which incorporates Lake Waikaremoana.

It was made a legal entity with the Te Urewera Act 2014.

Since then the Crown’s role in governance has decreased.

The responsibility of Te Urewera is in the hands of a nine-strong board — six from Ngai Tuhoe and three from the Crown.

All questions sent by The Gisborne Herald to the Department of Conservation (DoC) were referred to Ngai Tuhoe.

Ngai Tuhoe would not answer any questions about the day-to-day running of Te Urewera.

Instead an interview with Te Urewera board chairman Tamati Kruger was granted to share their vision for the area.

The 44-kilometre Great Walk has been reduced by 18.3km, with huts within that section only accessible by water taxi.

There used to be two water taxi companies operating — David Dods and Big Bush. These services are no longer in commercial operation or operating at Lake Waikaremoana.

What next? No boats? No free camping?

Maritime New Zealand senior communications and publications adviser Stephanie Morison said there was now one different water taxi operator — Tuhoe Trust Custodian Trustee Company Limited.

A Gisborne family who walked the track over Christmas said parts of the Great Walk that were open were worse than some parts that had been closed.

Because they had walked the track many times, they carried on through the closed bits and knew it would not matter if they got their feet “a bit wet”.

One section of the track was closed because a bridge had been “compromised”.

The bridge was snapped in the middle but it was only over a little bit of water. It was “nothing major” and was easy to walk around.

Another person spoken to — a bach owner of almost 20 years at the lake — held serious concerns for the care of Te Urewera and the lake.

She also wanted to stay anonymous out of fear of being seen as racist.

“Many of us feel that next it will be no boats allowed, then no free camping, and people will be muscled out, with politicians saying, ‘isn’t it lovely Tuhoe have their land back?’

“I feel quite strongly that I would like to help look after Te Urewera as a friend.”

Before Christmas the rubbish site at Mokau, where campers regularly dropped off their rubbish for collection, was still open but filled to the brim with black bags and recycling.

“The bins were overflowing before the holiday season had even started.”

After Christmas it was closed with no notice given, said the bach owner.

Rubbish began piling up.

She felt there was an agenda to make the tourists look bad, with “emotional photos” of rubbish bags left behind.

“Even before the change in management, there was a decline in maintenance and upkeep of the track and upkeep of facilities by DoC.

“Since the change it has become more marked.

“In the last 10 years I have seen a decline, first by DoC and now the current management system.”

  • Members of Te Urewera board are Dave Bamford, Marewa Titoko, Dr John Wood, Jo Breese, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger, Te Tokawhakaea Temara, Tamati Kruger, Lance Rurehe and Maynard Apiata.

A family with a history of holidaying at Lake Waikaremoana dating back more than 100 years say new management are “destroying the place”.

A significant section of the lake’s Great Walk has been closed, two water taxi services have stopped over the last year and there is concern over an increase in pests and a decrease in rubbish collection.

The whole situation is slowly imploding, says a member of the family who have been going to the lake for generations.

The lake-goer, who did not want to be named, was concerned at allegations of racism she felt could come out of the complaints.

It had nothing to do with race, she said.

“I absolutely love the place and love the people. There is an incredible problem going on up there and they are destroying the most amazing place.”

Te Urewera has replaced the name Te Urewera National Park, which incorporates Lake Waikaremoana.

It was made a legal entity with the Te Urewera Act 2014.

Since then the Crown’s role in governance has decreased.

The responsibility of Te Urewera is in the hands of a nine-strong board — six from Ngai Tuhoe and three from the Crown.

All questions sent by The Gisborne Herald to the Department of Conservation (DoC) were referred to Ngai Tuhoe.

Ngai Tuhoe would not answer any questions about the day-to-day running of Te Urewera.

Instead an interview with Te Urewera board chairman Tamati Kruger was granted to share their vision for the area.

The 44-kilometre Great Walk has been reduced by 18.3km, with huts within that section only accessible by water taxi.

There used to be two water taxi companies operating — David Dods and Big Bush. These services are no longer in commercial operation or operating at Lake Waikaremoana.

What next? No boats? No free camping?

Maritime New Zealand senior communications and publications adviser Stephanie Morison said there was now one different water taxi operator — Tuhoe Trust Custodian Trustee Company Limited.

A Gisborne family who walked the track over Christmas said parts of the Great Walk that were open were worse than some parts that had been closed.

Because they had walked the track many times, they carried on through the closed bits and knew it would not matter if they got their feet “a bit wet”.

One section of the track was closed because a bridge had been “compromised”.

The bridge was snapped in the middle but it was only over a little bit of water. It was “nothing major” and was easy to walk around.

Another person spoken to — a bach owner of almost 20 years at the lake — held serious concerns for the care of Te Urewera and the lake.

She also wanted to stay anonymous out of fear of being seen as racist.

“Many of us feel that next it will be no boats allowed, then no free camping, and people will be muscled out, with politicians saying, ‘isn’t it lovely Tuhoe have their land back?’

“I feel quite strongly that I would like to help look after Te Urewera as a friend.”

Before Christmas the rubbish site at Mokau, where campers regularly dropped off their rubbish for collection, was still open but filled to the brim with black bags and recycling.

“The bins were overflowing before the holiday season had even started.”

After Christmas it was closed with no notice given, said the bach owner.

Rubbish began piling up.

She felt there was an agenda to make the tourists look bad, with “emotional photos” of rubbish bags left behind.

“Even before the change in management, there was a decline in maintenance and upkeep of the track and upkeep of facilities by DoC.

“Since the change it has become more marked.

“In the last 10 years I have seen a decline, first by DoC and now the current management system.”

  • Members of Te Urewera board are Dave Bamford, Marewa Titoko, Dr John Wood, Jo Breese, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger, Te Tokawhakaea Temara, Tamati Kruger, Lance Rurehe and Maynard Apiata.

A Waitangi Tribunal report on the Urewera region published late last year showed the history of relations between the people of Te Urewera and the Crown had been a “profoundly unhappy one”.

The report was 30 years in the making.

Issues covered stemmed back almost 200 years ago to the mid-1860s when there was conflict between the Crown and the iwi of upper Wairoa, Waikaremoana and Te Urewera.

The report said from the mid-1860s to the early 1870s, noncombatants were sometimes killed and people were starved out of their villages, or driven from them, with wholesale destruction of kainga, crops and taonga.

“A deeply-held grievance was the failure of the Crown to give real recognition to mana motuhake/tino rangatiratanga.”

Fast forward to 2018, and Te Urewera Management Plan is now in effect under the Te Urewera Act 2014.

This Act was unique because it established Te Urewera as a legal identity.

The purpose of the Act is to strengthen and maintain the connection between Tuhoe and Te Urewera, as well as “provide for Te Urewera as a place for public use and enjoyment, for recreation, learning and spiritual reflection, and as an inspiration for all”.

A Tuhoe spokesman last year said they had moved from a DoC-led approach, and they were constantly learning and growing capability accordingly.

Te Urewera Board chairman Tamati Kruger said Te Urewera was the largest rain forest left in the North Island.

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Freedom walker - 10 months ago
That is a crying shame. Just glad I took my family around Lake Waikaremoana when it was at its best - it's the memories we have of the Lake that they cannot take from us.

Karen Paton, Galatea - 10 months ago
Such a special place - all people need to look after it. It's easy to leave it as you find it. Take your rubbish wherever you go. Not hard to do ...
Keep all Aotearoa free from litter.

Lynette Townrow, Havelock North - 10 months ago
We so agree that the care of the lake walk and facilities has deteriorated badly since new owners took over. Non collection of rubbish at huts, and general care is just awful. We have been going to the lake for 22 years, and my man for 35 years. So sad this beautiful, historic place is allowed to be neglected and to go downhill. It is not the users doing damage but those meant to be the caretakers for the area.

Lyn and Ted

Linda Dalgleish, Katikati - 3 months ago
It is a wonderful thing that Te Urewera now has its own rights recognised as its own legal entity. I fail to see how people can blame the local iwi for rubbish at huts. If you take rubbish into the bush with you, take it out again. It's pretty simple.

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