New Chums Beach Trust receives $200,000 from Waikato Regional Council to help pay off ‘large’ loan

The promontory at the northern end of Wainuiototo Bay - or New Chums Beach - was purchased by the New Zealand Coastal Trust in December 2021.

Thing

The promontory at the northern end of Wainuiototo Bay – or New Chums Beach – was purchased by the New Zealand Coastal Trust in December 2021.

A trust that saved a piece of untouched coastal land in Coromandel is now appealing to government agencies to help repay a million dollar loan.

The New Zealand Coastal Trust began raising money to buy the 30 hectares of land at the northern end of Wainuiototo Bay – also known as New Chums Beach – last year after it was put up for sale in September.

The people behind the trust got ‘large’ loans to buy the headland so it couldn’t be developed. The loans came from three people – in addition to the funds raised – who agreed to take up the offer pending the outcome of grant applications to other entities.

The Waikato Regional Council was the first to approve a $200,000 grant behind closed doors on Thursday and will “consider” donating an additional $200,000 from its Natural Heritage Fund at the end of the year, according to a statement.

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BRADEN FASTER / TRICK

Awaroa Beach was purchased by New Zealanders through a crowdfunding campaign. The beach is in the middle of the Abel Tasman National Park. (Video first posted in February 2020.)

The Department of Conservation has also been approached.

Wainuiototo Bay, near Whangapoua, was a private beach isolated from the development.

Over the past decade, developers have attempted to subdivide the watershed, but their every move has been strongly opposed by Coromandel residents.

The 30ha property has been put up for sale on behalf of Bank of New Zealand appointed receivers after Galt Nominees, owned by businessman George Kerr, defaulted on a mortgage.

The purchase was made by the New Zealand Coastal Trust with support from mana whenua, Preserve New Chum for Everyone, the Whangapoua Beach Ratepayers Association and the Environmental Defense Society.

In November, the trust requested $500,000 from the Waikato Regional Council’s Natural Heritage Fund, reducing the request to $400,000. The fund comes from a portion of the Natural Heritage Target Rate which is currently $5.80 per property.

Despite the huge public interest in the subject, the Waikato Regional Council said the matter was discussed at an excluded public meeting because there was information in the report that was not publicly available.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Russ Rimmington said the council wanted to be reassured with confidence that there would be public access.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Waikato Regional Council chairman Russ Rimmington said the council wanted to be reassured with confidence that there would be public access.

Thing understands that the information relates to the court’s decision on the land environment, which has been pending for two years.

During the meeting, councilors raised concerns about whether a $400,000 grant would deplete the Natural Heritage Fund and compromise its ability to support other applications.

Councilors voted 9-5 to give the trust $200,000 and for the new council to consider awarding an additional $200,000 in December 2022. Councilors Stu Husband, Pamela Storey, Fred Lichtwark, Kathy White and Hugh Vercoe have voted against the motion.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Russ Rimmington said the grant had broad support, but councilors had sought reassurance of confidence that with public funds would come public access.

“It’s a slice of New Zealand heaven, and it’s understandable why so many people have helped to protect it. But by committing public funds, it’s assumed there will be a way for the wider community to also enjoy.

The trust confirmed this at the meeting, but said the terrain is hilly and the tracks may have limited accessibility. It examines various aspects related to public access, education/interpretation and community participation in the management of the land block. Any development of footpaths will have to consider the health of the forest and avoid the risk of spreading kauri dieback, the councilors said.

The trust and its local partners are expected to raise funds as needed for things such as ongoing pest and weed management and interpretive signage.

The purchase of the Wainuiototo Bay headlands cost the New Zealand Coastal Trust $2.1 million.

ANDY LEAKED

The purchase of the Wainuiototo Bay headlands cost the New Zealand Coastal Trust $2.1 million.

Elna M. Lemons