The original Māori owners of a New Plymouth golf course have teed up an agreement with the golf club to jointly manage the land.
For months Ngāti Tawhirikura and the Fitzroy Golf Club have been negotiating future plans for the reserve land, which is controlled by New Plymouth District Council.
Councillors yesterday [26/07] unanimously agreed to grant a 15-year lease of the golf course for one dollar a year.
The club might initially take on the lease alone, or in a joint entity with the hapū: either way the two sides would co-manage the land.
Once they finalised discussions, council officers would be able to reshape the lease to embody their agreement.
Most of Peringa Park, which the golf course has occupied for 90 years, was made a Native Reserve in 1887.
The reserve was later taken into Crown ownership, then transferred to the New Plymouth Borough in two parts in 1922 and 1930 – records are unclear how this was done.
The co-management agreement landed in a bunker a fortnight ago when two more hapū – Ngāti Te Whiti and Ngāti Tūparikino – also declared an affiliation to the land.
At that time kaumatua Peter Moeahu called for the three hapū to be granted the lease, independent of the golf club.
But yesterday [26/07] his son, councillor Dinnie Moeahu, instead chipped in with a successful motion to bring all three hapū together in ongoing discussions.
“There are three key hapū affiliated with that land and the conversation with both Tūparikino and Ngāti Te Whiti is that they just wanted to be included in the discussion,” said Cr Moeahu.
Mayor Neil Holdom quizzed the chairperson of Ngāti Tawhirikura, Ngamata Skipper, about progress with the other hapū.
Skipper said Tawhirikura supported other hapū being involved in the future of the land but also wanted to conclude the agreement with the golfers.
“We’re forever grateful for matua Peter [Moeahu] to be able to put it on the table and speak that out aloud – [but] we’re looking to the long game here and we’ll continue with our original commitment.”
Skipper said she was proud of the relationship with Fitzroy Golf Club, which had taken on the history of the land and was willing to cede power.
“They could have come in hardball and spat the dummy and said ‘no we just want to carry on with our 30-year lease.’”
“They actually sat back and thought how do they fit within the landscape and make that a better place?”
“I encourage the council to think about other opportunities… around this type of model, with lands that have a history bigger than 1840.”
The co-management approved by council came bundled with an agreed plan for Mātai Ngā Takapū (Peringa Park North) to recognise its cultural and environmental context, while accommodating the golf course.
Development would include cultural interpretation features, better public access including a pedestrian path, a wetland restoration and more native plantings.
Of the Taranaki land originally reserved for Māori after the Crown confiscated the whole province in 1865, 91 percent has since been alienated.
All remaining Native Reserves in New Plymouth are now public reserves owned by NPDC.