In July 2020, Council voted to progress a proposed return of ownership of the eastern end of Matakana Island to five local hapū.
Council inherited the 172 hectares of land, commonly known as Panepane Purakau, at no cost from the Tauranga Harbour Board under the Local Government Reform in 1989 and is now proposing that it be returned to its ancestral owners.
The proposed transfer agreement would see a 7 hectare public reserve created to ensure public access to the foreshore is protected in perpetuity. This means people will still be able to enjoy activities like fishing off the wharf, walking along the beach and using the recreational areas close to Panepane Purakau, such as water-skiing lanes.
Submissions on the proposal were made during the special public consultation period from 28 July to 31 August 2020. The consultation included online submissions and five public information meetings attended by a total of 332 people – at Matakana Island, Omokoroa, Katikati, Te Puke and Tauranga.
A total of 7381 pieces of feedback were received. Of the submissions, 7121 were for the proposal and 260 opposed.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor Garry Webber said the level of feedback was significant and he thanked the community for their input.
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Council will deliberate on the submissions and make a final decision at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday 29 October. Members of the public are welcome to attend this meeting at 10am, Stadium Lounge Trustpower Baypark. It will also be livestreamed via our Facebook page given the significance of the deliberation and also due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions for gatherings. .
If accepted, Council will return ownership of 165 hectares of Panepane Purakau to a Trust representing the five hapū of Ngai Tuwhiwhia, Ngati Tauaiti, Te Ngare, Te Whānau a Tauwhao and Ngai Tamawhariua.