Three years after initial contention the proposed cycleway from Hokianga to the Bay of Islands continues to stir emotions.
Member of the Ngāpipito landowners collective, Varron Armstrong says “the whānau, right from day one, have worked hard to find alternatives. We understand the opportunities it could provide, but we want ourselves to have control over our whenua, not the council.”
Local farmer Warren Roger, is incensed with council plans to plough a 1.2km track through the middle of his dairy operation.
He says “they wanna just bulldoze their way in and take it for nothing so it doesn't go across well as far as we're concerned. They tell you one thing and do another so we're sort of at a point where we've gotta have everything in writing with them you just can't trust the beggars.”
To this day, 15 of the 17 landowners in the Ngāpipito Collective remain opposed to the cycleway. For decades now, the community has lobbied for their dusty and dangerous roads to be addressed and just days ago, the council indicated that they're now reassessing the cycleway route to ensure all parties are satisfied.
Mr Armstrong says, “they’re putting our tourists in front of our own needs. Mr Roger has accused the Council of bowing down to people with money while sacrificing the needs of those who live on and off the land in favour of the mighty dollar.
The collective has vowed to continue its fight so it seems any benefits to come from the cycleway are still a long way off.