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'Pull finger': Closed track a 'real problem' says MP

Author
Al Williams,
Publish Date
Sat, 13 Apr 2024, 4:35pm
Member of Parliament for Coromandel, Scott Simpson, has told house DoC had a “very slow timetable”.
Member of Parliament for Coromandel, Scott Simpson, has told house DoC had a “very slow timetable”.

'Pull finger': Closed track a 'real problem' says MP

Author
Al Williams,
Publish Date
Sat, 13 Apr 2024, 4:35pm

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson has taken a swing at the Department of Conservation over the ongoing closure of Cathedral Cove. 

In Parliament on Tuesday, Simpson said DoC had been “so slow to get that track open”. 

Simpson told the house DoC had a “very slow timetable”. 

DoC said it would not be responding to Simpson’s parliamentary speech. 

Coromandel’s Cathedral Cove repairs have been too slow, MP Scott Simpson says. Photo / 123rfCoromandel’s Cathedral Cove repairs have been too slow, MP Scott Simpson says. Photo / 123rf 

Hauraki-Waikato-Taranaki regional director Tinaka Mearns said DoC was continuing to work towards a June deadline set by Minister of Conservation Tama Potaka. 

“We also have some information on our Cathedral Cove work programme to share with the public and media early next week.” 

Last month, DoC announced the first steps to restore walking access to Coromandel’s Cathedral Cove Te Whanganui-a-Hei, while Potaka said he hoped to have the walking tracks reinstated before next summer. 

DoC was now looking at rerouting the walking tracks, as the existing tracks were still unsafe. 

The track to the famous beach - renowned for its natural rock arch feature – was severely damaged by extreme weather events last year. Since then, walking tracks to the cove have been closed. 

“I think it’s beholden upon the Department of Conservation to actually get their act together, to pull finger, and to actually get ahead of the Minister’s timetable and see if we can get the track open sooner,” Simpson said on Tuesday. 

“There was some cyclone damage to the pathway that takes people down to the beach from the lookout, down quite a long and windy walk, and some damage has occurred, but, by engineering standards and by any other measure, it’s not that big a job to get it fixed.” 

Labour’s MP for Christchurch Central, Duncan Webb, told the house Simpson should talk to his minister Tama Potaka. 

The Cathedral Cove Walkway is still closed but the popular site can be admired from afar during a kayak or boat tour. Photo / Department of ConservationThe Cathedral Cove Walkway is still closed but the popular site can be admired from afar during a kayak or boat tour. Photo / Department of Conservation 

Simpson said Potaka visited on January2. 

“We went and had a look and then about a week or so later ... we had the Minister for Tourism, the Hon Matt Doocey, come to visit and have a look for himself. 

“Those ministers understand how important that track is, not only to locals in the Coromandel, in Hāhei, but how important it is to our international tourist reputation and our total international tourist package. 

“There are literally tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people who want to come and walk that track and experience the beautiful Cathedral Cove experience, who currently cannot do it. 

“It wasn’t going to be until September of this year that they were even going to make a decision about what might eventually happen at the cove. 

“Well, thanks to the good work of Tama Potaka, the new Minister of Conservation, I was delighted, on behalf of local businesses, tourist operators, and also the hundreds of thousands of visitors who want to come and see Cathedral Cove, that he has now committed to ensuring that his Department of Conservation officials have on his desk, in June, their plan for getting the track reopened for the coming summer season.” 

He said it was important because many local businesses did most of their annual turnover during the summer months. 

“When we don’t have a good summer period, there isn’t an opportunity for those businesses to make that revenue up any other way. So having the track closed is a real problem.” 

This article was originally posted on the NZ Herald here. 

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