Week In News Review – DOC Under Fire
Written by John Freer on November 25, 2023
This is CFMs week in news review with John Freer
With news of SH25A reopening this side of Christmas, attention has moved to the next piece of critical tourism infrastructure and the possible reopening of Cathedral Cove’s land-based access.
The Department of Conversation has continued to state the track to the cove will not be open this summer. Instead, in what some have described as a cynical move, DOC has cut down a number of trees which further blocked the track.
DOC’s response to us – it saw it as a suitable time to remove the trees and it was not a signal, they were preparing to reopen the track.
To further acerbate the position, DOC held a meeting yesterday (Friday), with the Hahei business community, which was by invitation only. The list excluded serious players in the Cathedral Cove tourism package – missing were those who provide the Park and Ride at Hahei for the Cove, one of the major accommodation providers in the award winning Hot Water Top 10 holiday park, one of the key tour boat operators in Cathedral Cove Tours.
Local Iwi Ngati Hei were invited as an adjoining landowner, as were Thames Coromandel District Council representatives. DOC was not prepared to explain the invitation list, Nick Kelly saying instead he was looking to a positive, pragmatic and professional discussion.
That discussion was about potentially opening two viewing areas above Cathedral Cove – this in conjunction with Ngati Hei and local property owners. CFM understands the meeting was told by one speaker that the track to the cove may never reopen.
Prior to the meeting we asked TCDC to comment on the meeting and the invitation list, they declined stating it was a DOC arranged meeting.
Earlier in the week we ran another story involving DOC, this about the coming holiday season, possibly one of the most important ever for our tourism and business community. We know many small businesses need a good season if they are to survive and continue trading into the future.
Again, a number of operators, including the Coromandel Colville Community Board chairman and local tour operator, Gavin Jeffcoat, along with our local Member of Parliament, Scott Simpson, questioned DOCs inability to have all campgrounds, tracks and huts back to full capacity for the coming summer.
The point was made that one Government agency could get a vital state highway link open, but another could not get campgrounds, tracks and huts fully operational.
This, Gavin Jeffcoat told us, would have a significant impact on businesses ability to recover. Many people CFM spoke to this week said DOC’s actions, clearly displayed a lack of awareness of the significant economic impacts reduced and closed facilities had, and the department’s inability to work across all stakeholders.