Bay of Plenty residents will become the proud owners of 25 hectares of historic pa sites and future park land next year, following the signing of a land purchase agreement by Bay of Plenty Regional Council this week.
“Papamoa Hills Regional Park is currently closed due to the Fulton Hogan logging operation around land leased for the car park. But when it re-opens next year, we’ll have an even bigger Park for people to enjoy,” said Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder.
Regional Councillors unanimously approved the purchase of 25 hectares of farmland adjacent to the existing Pāpāmoa Hills Regional Park, at an extraordinary Council meeting last week. Tender negotiations were completed this week and the purchase settlement is scheduled for 10 February 2017.
Chairman Leeder said the purchase decision was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect the cultural and landscape heritage values of the land, and secure open space that will meet the needs of an increasingly developed city and region.
“It also secures the Park’s public road access and gives us more options for developing visitor facilities in the future,” Mr Leeder said.
Ngā Potiki representative Matire Duncan wrote to Regional Council to advocate for the purchase on behalf of the Pāpāmoa Hills Tangata Whenua Advisory Committee. She said that Te Rae o Pāpāmoa (the Papamoa Hills ridgeline) is an ancestral landmark and an outstanding cultural landscape that has been occupied by many different Iwi over the centuries: Waitaha, Ngati Ranginui, Ngai te Rangihouhiri, Ngati Pukenga, Nga Potiki and Ngati He.
“It’s one of the most outstanding examples of pā and settlement complexes in the Pacific. The purchased land contains two important pā complexes (Maraeroa and Kaingapakura). Expanding the Park to include those pa sites protects a pataka (storehouse) of information about the early inhabitants of Te Moana a Toi (Bay of Plenty). It honours the whakapapa and cultural connections of Te Rae o Pāpāmoa,” she said.
Regional Council’s Land Management Officer Courtney Bell who manages park operations said that the current logging operation is progressing well.
“We’re still expecting to be able to re-open the Park later this summer,” she said. Park re-opening updates will be posted to www.boprc.govt.nz/papamoahills as further information becomes available.