In the Far North the people of Whatuwhiwhi are questioning the loss of a public reserve under control of the neighbouring holiday park. But Council reports show that it's been an ongoing informal arrangement for many years.
Perehepi Bay is where holiday makers flock to in summer and pay camping fees to take over the majority of the public reserve.
Local resident Brian Reeve says, “When we first came it was just a jungle and then they took it over cleared it and made it a campsite and they sort of swallowed up half the reserve as well because there wasn't much flat area in the original area. Now it’s largely become the reserve is now the campsite.”
Under the local body law, one is not allowed to camp on a public reserve. But for many years the council have allowed the Top 10 Holiday Park to charge campers to stay on the reserve under an informal agreement.
Caroline Snowden from Ngāti Kahu says, “You know people have said well why don't we just go and camp down there on that land on that reserve that actually belongs to us. It doesn't belong to Shangai Cred the people who have bought the Top 10 Holiday Park so why don't we just go and pitch our tent up down there and just camp on there. Whose actually gonna tell us that we have no right to be there. Whose gonna come and kick us off and say well you can’t be there.”
The Far North District Council have told Te Kāea that a formal arrangement should have been reached by now with the new owner of the Top 10 Holiday Park, and they are awaiting confirmation from Shanghai Cred that wishes to formalise the agreement which will allow for a consultation process with local hapū and the general public over a licence.
Meanwhile, the council has announced that all public can also camp on the Perehepi reserve for free.
“I would say that it’s not very popular the fact that the reserve has been stolen and turned into a campsite,’ says Reeve.
An outcome of the issue is expected in due course.