Late last week, Te Āpiti – Manawatū Gorge Governance Group adopted Whakatakotoranga Matua Ki Te Āpiti – a masterplan that provides their vision and strategic framework to protect, preserve, and enhance the Manawatū Gorge so that all parties move towards a common goal.
Te Āpiti – Manawatū Gorge Governance Group (TAMGGG) was established in 2016, formalising a collaboration of various organisations that had been underway for over a decade. Members of TAMGGG include Horizons Regional Council, Tararua District Council, Palmerston North City Council, Manawatū District Council, Department of Conservation (DOC), Iwi and landowners.
TAMGGG and Horizons Chair Rachel Keedwell says the Group are tasked with securing finances and putting in place appropriate systems to effectively resource and deliver work programmes to help grow biodiversity, recreational, educational and cultural values within the scenic reserve.
“While many plans are already in place such as the Manawatū Gorge Cultural Values Assessment prepared by Rangitāne, Horizons’ Manawatū Gorge Biodiversity Plan, DOC’s Wellington Conservation Management Plan, and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Cultural and Environmental Design Framework, as well as various destination plans, no one overarching plan or framework existed,” says Cr Keedwell.
“The Masterplan provides a platform for planned and aspirational projects to be united and progressed via an agreed approach.
“Eleven proposed projects have been identified for consideration, these include new recreational tracks, suspension and sky bridges, visitor accommodation, cultural projects, and obtaining UNESCO ‘Geopark’ status for Te Āpiti. These sit alongside existing recreation and biodiversity features, and two committed projects being led by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Iwi.
Iwi members of the Te Āpiti – Manawatū Gorge Governance Group share Cr Keedwell’s sentiment.
Rangitāne ō Tamaki nui-ā-Rua Chair Mavis Mullins says Te Āpiti is a taonga that for hundreds of years has been under the kaitiaki (guardianship) of iwi.
“The partnership approach of the Masterplan ensures any and all projects or commercial opportunities that arise in area will be measured against shared objectives,” says Mrs Mullins.
“This includes showing how they enhance the mana of Te Āpiti, protect the cultural values of the area, and improve visitor experiences.