HOME Bay at Lake Waikaremoana could be “taken to another level” as an international tourist destination, and potentially a cultural and business centre if the motor camp comes under Tuhoe control as planned by 2015, a meeting in Gisborne heard this week.
Until then, there are no plans for any changes, Tuhoe operations group manager Glenn Mitchell told a meeting of about 30 at the annual Waikaremoana Fishing and Boating Association meeting.
The 212,672 hectares of Te Urewera National Park will exit the national park network to create a new legal identity, where neither the Crown nor Tuhoe own the land.
This is part of the $170 million Treaty of Waitangi deal for the Tuhoe tribe.
The land will be managed by a governance board of initially four Crown and four Tuhoe appointees, with one of the Tuhoe appointees as chairman. After three years, composition of the board will change to three Crown and six Tuhoe.
Mr Mitchell said the National Parks Act will no longer apply and will be replaced by a new Te Urewera Act, expected to pass through Government early next year.
Access to the area would not change and no fees would be added to use Lake Waikaremoana, he told the meeting.
“Both Tuhoe and the Crown want access to stay as it is now,” he said.
“That is not to say there will not be changes to facility use charges in the future, though.”
Tuhoe and the Crown are also in discussion about a replacement visitor centre for Waikaremoana.
“We see a new visitor centre as an essential facility for the area,” Mr Mitchell said.
“An architect has been engaged and we are in the early stages of design concepts and site selection. The new building might also have a cultural and commercial component.”
A Tuhoe group was going to the area to look at suitable sites next week.
“We see the new visitor centre as having a wider use than it has now — a cultural or business centre, a multi- function building. It makes sense to have this near the motor camp and close to all the facilities.”
Derek Brenchley and his wife Petrina have a two-year contract to run the motor camp and after that Tuhoe plan to take over ownership.
The camp and its facilities were getting pretty run down and DoC was trying to address the issues but had financial restraints itself, said Mr Mitchell.
After the deed is signed in March, DoC will retain ownership of all facilities, jetties, tracks, huts and the motor camp at Waikaremoana. However, the new Te Urewera board will have full management control.
Tuhoe sees the motor camp as a major facility for the area and community, and will encourage tourism and commercial expansion.
Trout fisherman David Parker said there had been a lot of voluntary work done by his and others’ families at Home Bay, including roading, pontoons, car parks and sheds.
Families used the lake regularly, so a lot of people felt that some of their heart was up there.
Many people were happy with what was there and did not want to lose any of it, and maybe did not want it to grow any bigger, he said.
Mr Mitchell said the work of the Waikaremoana Fishing and Boating Association was recognised, as was the depth of the association whose members had children who were third-generation users.
“We recognise what the area means to the association and Tuhoe values this association.”
• Mr Mitchell worked in Te Urewera National Park from 1975, the last 19 years as area manager based at Waikaremoana. About 18 months ago he was appointed as a group manager with the Tuhoe-Te Uru Taumatua Trust, with management responsibilities for Tuhoe’s natural resources, including Te Urewera.
To read the original Gisborne Herald article, click here.