Ma te wa.
Monday, 4 February 2013
Better late than never
Ok first up sorry this post is a bit late but I have been trying to hold out for information.As indicated in my last post I wanted to talk about the fees paid to the consultants that were engaged to explore the option of building a “gondola” that would take people from behind the Mataatua wharenui up the escarpment to the pa site, Kapu-te-rangi.
The idea was part of research into the commercial development opportunities around the wharenui. In other words, we needed to find some way to make the Mataatua wharenui pay for itself.First opened in 1875 the Mataatua wharenui was built as a testament to Ngati Awa’s enduring creative spirit following the land wars, confiscation and sickness that had decimated our tribe.
Recognised as a beautiful example of Maori artwork the wharenui was taken overseas in 1879 when the Government needed a carved meeting house for the British Empire Exhibition.It was shipped back to New Zealand in 1925 but rather than returning to Whakatane it became a permanent exhibit at the Otago Museum.
Finally returned to Ngati Awa in 1996 after years of negotiations, the wharenui was restored over the next 15-years. However along the way it was acknowledged that it was going to need money to maintain the house long-term.So it was identified that because of its assets the best way to do this was to create a tourism product around the whare.
Consultants were engaged to find the best way of achieving this and they produced a comprehensive report.According to that report four options were identified: create a complex with the wharenui as the only attraction, add a people-mover to take visitors from the wharenui to the top of the escarpment, build a restaurant and swing bridge so that once visitors were at the top they could eat a meal and access Kohi Point easily or go the whole hog and in addition to everything else they could build an underground experience that would incorporate a light show.
In the end the executive board decided against the people-mover, restaurant, swing-bridge and underground experience. Rather, they decided to build a marae complex and invest close to $1 million into developing a world-class light show that told the stories of our tribe.Ok, with that explained we can get down to business.
When I first decided to write about this subject for the Tu Mai Te Toki blog, I wanted to be able to confirm the amount that was paid to consultants engaged to explore the option of installing the “gondola”.The figure was mentioned in a report given at last year’s AGM by the runanga’s accountant Murray Haines.
Last week I went into the runanga’s offices to get a copy of the minutes from the AGM but I was told that they still hadn’t been typed up.So I sent an email to Mr Haines asking if he could confirm the amount but he replied that I would have to wait until my hapu hui.
“Our CEO Enid Ratahi-Pryor and I will be attending your hapu hui and will be happy to answer questions there through the hapu representative,” he said in the email.Now here are my concerns around this situation.
When Mr Haines raised the point about the consultants’ fees he claimed it was to investigate the option of a gondola.The report clearly states that the option was not a gondola but a people-mover that would take visitors through the undergrowth like a cable car.
While this may seem to be nit-picking it clearly shows that there are some within the runanga who do not have a clear understanding of the report.Secondly, while I cannot remember the exact amount paid to the consultants and Mr Haines would not confirm it I do recall it was close to $200,000. And although I am glad that this investigation was undertaken so that it could be identified that it was not the right option to take before we spent any more money on it, I am concerned that there was no consultation with the Ngati Hokopu and Wharepaia.
Most would accept that the area around the wharenui, known as Wairaka, would be under the mana whenua of those two hapu and to consider investing in something that would drastically change the landscape like a people-mover without consulting the people of that land is beyond rude.Finally I would suggest that the fact that it has been two months since the AGM and the minutes are still not available highlights the need for better efficiency within the runanga.
Next time I will explore the subject of the Mataatua wharenui a little further.
Ma te wa.
Ma te wa.