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Iconic Coromandel visitor spot Cathedral Cove has been temporarily closed to the public due to an ongoing landslip and rockfall risk. File photo: SUPPLIED

Coro businesses keen for more Cove consultation

As the anniversary of the Cathedral Cove walking track closure draws near, the Mercury Bay Business Association says local frustrations are reaching “new heights”.
The Department of Conservation has recently announced the work it will undertake to determine “viable, safe, and resilient” solutions for visitor access to the Cove via the track, but association spokesman Ray Van Beynen believed the timeframe of the work would effectively keep the popular destination closed for another summer season.
In a Cathedral Cove update released by DOC on January 26, the department said a survey available to all visitors to the Cove had begun. It will see staff intercepting visitors disembarking from their water transport from Cathedral Cove, and inviting them to complete a short questionnaire. The survey would help the department understand people’s attitudes towards Cathedral Cove, the preferred options, and the likelihood of success, DOC said.
While the results from DOC’s land stability monitoring are to be expected in June, from February through to April, staff will work alongside Ngāti Hei to develop options and conceptual ideas, which will then be shared for wider public engagement.
Mr Van Beynen said DOC should also afford local communities and businesses the courtesy of consultation alongside local iwi.
“Being given options after effectively 18 months of inaction and virtually no consultation is disgraceful,” he said.
“Furthermore, DOC could, and should, have continued Geotech monitoring over the past 11 months and appear unable to explain why that did not occur.”
In a release, Mr Van Beynen said after two difficult years with Covid-19 and a third with severe weather events, Coromandel locals were ready for a “return to normal”.
He said the sentiment among the majority of residents was that the Department of Conservation should “spend the required money to mend what’s needed and then declare the track – and the Coromandel – open for business”.
“That it has taken DOC nearly a year to come to this conclusion, and without any clear communications or consultation, is a slap in the face for local communities and key stakeholders,” he said.
DOC said residents and businesses could expect more information about local engagement and feedback opportunities from February.