Te Mata Park is unique in many ways. Not only because of its landscapes, ecology and cultural significance, but also its status as private land, managed by the Te Mata Park Trust on behalf of the community. The Park will indeed be ‘Ours Forever’, protected in perpetuity by an Open Space Covenant through the Queen Elizabeth II Trust. This ensures that the land and its open space values are always preserved.
Since being gifted to the community by the Chambers family in 1927, the Park has always been managed by volunteers (including the trustees). Apart from receiving an annual contribution from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council since 1998 to fund a part-time caretaker, the Park has relied solely on donations, grants and volunteer contributions.
This funding model is proving increasingly unsustainable as the importance and popularity of the Park as a visitor destination and local open greenspace increases.
Developing a long-term plan
Immediately following the Te Mata Park Trust Board’s decision in March 2015 to not proceed with the planned Visitor & Education Centre, we sat down with the councillors from each of HB Regional Council, Napier City Council and Hastings District Council to discuss ‘where to from here’ for the Park.
All three councils had made significant capital commitments to the Visitor & Education Centre Project and, through the 2015 long-term planning process, the Trust sought and secured their agreement to retain these commitments for a twelve month period. While the ambitious building project had been halted, many of the underlying drivers for the project (lack of amenities, information etc) are still pressing problems.
The Trust committed to presenting a ten year plan for the Park to each council as part of their 2016 Annual Plan processes and we hope to make a compelling case for the re-allocation of their capital commitments to the Park for planned improvements and ongoing maintenance.
So, over the past six months, we have been working hard on the preparation of a Ten Year Management Plan for Te Mata Park with the involvement and support of the HB Regional, Napier City, and Hastings District councils. HDC have also committed significant resources and expertise from their Parks Management Team to help us prepare the plan.
This is proving to be a tremendously positive process. The Management Plan will set the vision, identify priorities and confirm an action plan for the Park to take us through to 2025. Our goal is to provide greater security for the Park into the future – to ensure we have in place a sustainable plan to fund, maintain and protect the Park, and also to identify key areas for improvement and investment.
Key issues & community input
Te Mata Park is under significant pressure due to the rising intensity of use. Lack of facilities within the Park, balancing the needs of different groups of recreational users (eg, walkers and mountain bikers), and congestion in the car parks and on the upper sections of Te Mata Peak Road are all issues that must be addressed.
The Trust Board consulted the community on these issues during October and November via a weekend of Open Days in the Park and an online survey.
We were delighted to receive 661 individual survey responses to help us understand overall user satisfaction with the Park and some of the factors that influence their responses. The survey also provided us with information on the activities undertaken in the Park, the demographics of users, and their suggestions for improvement.
The key findings of the survey were that:
• 92% of respondents are Satisfied or Very Satisfied with Te Mata Park.
• Respondents use the Park for a variety of reasons, most commonly Walking/ Running, with 79% visiting Often or Always for this reason.
• Respondents are most likely to use the car park at the main gates (48%) or Tauroa Road (33%) when visiting.
• 72% visit with between 1-4 others. Friends make up these groupings 32% of the time.
• 83% of respondents visit for 2 hours or less.
• Paths and Tracks (28%), Toilets and Drinking Water (19%), and General
Maintenance (18%) are the three factors most likely to affect a visitor’s overall satisfaction. However, 30% of all respondents felt a priority for improvement was to add toilets and 26% to provide drinking water.
Through January the Trust will be seeking ongoing community comment and suggestions on some of the most pressing capital improvements needed for the Park.
Ensuring good design
Te Mata Park is famous for its inspirational and iconic physical environment and features, and the Trust is committed to complementing these with similarly inspirational design and construction of physical infrastructure within the Park. As part of the planning process, we are developing a Design Vision for the Park which will provide the foundation of the brief and specifications for any ‘constructed’ element such as signage, toilets, bins and park furniture, as well as printed materials and online content.
In setting this Design Vision, the Trust is seeking to:
• Create a unique identity for Te Mata Park that showcases the best of New Zealand design and innovation.
• Complement and reflect the natural beauty and attributes of the Park, rather than interrupt or erode the appeal of the physical environment.
• Engage the local and national design and engineering community to produce innovative, functional and sustainable solutions to meet Park user and visitor needs.
• Ensure that the Hawke’s Bay community finds inspiration and feels pride in the quality, creativity and sustainability of
the amenities provided for them within
Finalising the management plan
We are continuing to gather community input and fully develop the practical implications of the Trust’s vision for creating a unique designed environment within the Park. These will be incorporated into the objectives, policies and plans and a draft of the full Ten Year Management Plan will be finalised by February 2016. The Draft Plan will then be circulated for formal submissions from the community during March and April.
The Trust’s intention is to submit the final Ten Year Management Plan in June 2016 for consideration by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Napier City Council and Hastings District Council in their 2016 Annual Plan processes. The Plan will also underpin any and all of our applications to other organisations, government agencies and individuals for support.
Funding the management plan
The Trust will make the case for increased support for the basic operation and maintenance of the Park from local councils. This support could be provided through an extension of services already delivered by councils across our many local and regional parks (eg, rubbish removal, servicing of public toilets, weed spraying, etc).
For capital projects, local councils are not the only entities from which we will be seeking support. The Trust will apply for project-specific grants from central government agencies as well as charitable trusts and foundations.
Concurrently, the Trust will develop fundraising initiatives and ongoing revenue programmes to create a sustainable future for the Park.
The end goal
By mid-2016, the Trust’s goal is to have provided a blueprint for the next ten years of the life of Te Mata Park – one that mixes inspiration and excitement with sustainability and functionality, and that meets the practical needs of the Park and its thousands of users. The most important ingredient to this mix is community input – we have made a great start, and encourage everyone to continue to engage with us over the coming months.
For more information about Te Mata Park and the Management Plan process, visit: