Solution needed for site but agreeing on it will be a challenge

EDITORIAL

The state of the Cook Landing Site on Kaiti Beach Road is a continuing controversy that could cast a shadow over the 2019 Te Ha commemorations, and possibly become an issue in the forthcoming local body election.

The site is owned by the Department of Conservation and Minister Maggie Barry was asked recently to see what could be done about the sorry fact it is cut off from the sea and its heritage context by a busy port. The short answer is that a satisfactory solution will be extremely difficult.

Despite Gisborne District Council agreeing to a Cone of Vision to allow a clear sight across the bay to Te Kuri a Paoa/Young Nicks Head and a favourable Planning Tribunal decision in 1987, the view — from one of the nation’s three National Historic Reserves to another — has been obscured by port buildings and logs for more than two decades. A view should also be available to the Turanganui river mouth and the site of Te Toka a Taiau, the rock where the first greeting between a Maori and a European took place.

One option suggested is to raise the monument and have a walkway connect it over the road. It is the topic of our latest web poll and by this morning 68 percent of 122 respondents were in favour. A multimillion-dollar cost could be prohibitive, though, as could heritage concerns.

It is worth remembering that the monument was built in 1906 after every Gisborne school child donated a penny, raising £500 — the equivalent of $80,000 today. Something of that spirit could be needed before 2019.

On the other hand older residents who remember difficult times for the former Gisborne Harbour Board in the 1970s, when the port was only kept going by the proceeds from Tauwhareparae Farms, would have been pleased to read Saturday’s front-page story that Eastland Port has set a new annual export record of 2.3 million tonnes.

Those logs are not going away and the challenge now is providing a solution that means the most historically significant site in the country can be properly recognised.

The state of the Cook Landing Site on Kaiti Beach Road is a continuing controversy that could cast a shadow over the 2019 Te Ha commemorations, and possibly become an issue in the forthcoming local body election.

The site is owned by the Department of Conservation and Minister Maggie Barry was asked recently to see what could be done about the sorry fact it is cut off from the sea and its heritage context by a busy port. The short answer is that a satisfactory solution will be extremely difficult.

Despite Gisborne District Council agreeing to a Cone of Vision to allow a clear sight across the bay to Te Kuri a Paoa/Young Nicks Head and a favourable Planning Tribunal decision in 1987, the view — from one of the nation’s three National Historic Reserves to another — has been obscured by port buildings and logs for more than two decades. A view should also be available to the Turanganui river mouth and the site of Te Toka a Taiau, the rock where the first greeting between a Maori and a European took place.

One option suggested is to raise the monument and have a walkway connect it over the road. It is the topic of our latest web poll and by this morning 68 percent of 122 respondents were in favour. A multimillion-dollar cost could be prohibitive, though, as could heritage concerns.

It is worth remembering that the monument was built in 1906 after every Gisborne school child donated a penny, raising £500 — the equivalent of $80,000 today. Something of that spirit could be needed before 2019.

On the other hand older residents who remember difficult times for the former Gisborne Harbour Board in the 1970s, when the port was only kept going by the proceeds from Tauwhareparae Farms, would have been pleased to read Saturday’s front-page story that Eastland Port has set a new annual export record of 2.3 million tonnes.

Those logs are not going away and the challenge now is providing a solution that means the most historically significant site in the country can be properly recognised.

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