Maori Pa boat ramp access won't be restricted, says council
Nelson City Council has assured recreational boat users that their access to the Maori Pa Rd boat ramp at Delaware Bay, north of Nelson will not be restricted.
Recreational users had raised concerns that council may close or limit boat launching and vehicle access to the estuary area, which had come to light through correspondence between its members and council staff.
These concerns were put forward at a meeting held last Friday at the Fish and Game Rooms in Richmond, following a site visit by environmental consultants five days earlier.
It is understood a resolution to the situation was expected before Labour Weekend where council planned to to install a sign at the access point.
On Thursday, a council spokesperson said that signs were simply being installed to remind people that the area is ecologically or culturally sensitive.
"There are no current plans to change access," they said.
Thought to be the only public access launch ramp between Port Nelson and Okiwi Bay, the ramp is popular among recreational users as a safe and convenient location to launch vessels.
The ease of access extends to 4WD vehicles being able to drive onto the estuary flats at low tide to load or unload vessels.
According to chapter 13 of the Nelson Resource Management Plan, driving of vehicles on, and disturbance of the foreshore or seabed by vehicles, is permitted if the activity is associated with certain activities including the launching or retrieving of recreational or commercial vessels at launching ramps.
Disturbance that contravenes a permitted condition is enforced on a discretionary basis.
Recreational fishing advocate Daryl Crimp said the ramp was "crucial" from a safety perspective and in his opinion was one of the most important boat ramps in the region.
"The coastal area from Okiwi through to Pepin Island would be potentially one of the roughest reaches of water when the weather blows up - Delaware Bay provides a sheltered haven for those small boaties, families and kayakers," he said
Crimp said the value of the estuary had been recognised since pre European times as a traditional launching and food gathering site.
With boat ownership rapidly increasing in the Nelson region, Crimp said limiting access to boat ramps like Maori Pa Rd would lead to inflammatory social issues caused by congestion and put pressure on other launch sites.
He said both local councils needed to rapidly upgrade the current ramps and look to find new ones.
The estuary has been the subject of ownership claims by local Maori, with the Te Huria Matenga Wakapuaka Trust seeking freehold title of the coastal enclosure for many years.
Their claim sparked debate which resulted in the Foreshore and Seabed Act in 2004 being introduced after a 1998 Maori Land Court decision granted title to the trust.
The Crown took that decision to the Court of Appeal which overturned the land court's ruling.
A further appeal by the trust was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2011.