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Action on Cathedral Cove

There was a special meeting with stake holders in the tourism and hospitality industry at Dive Zone on Tuesday, 9 January. The reason was to meet, and speak with the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Honourable Matt Doocey who had come to Mercury Bay to hear the concerns regarding Cathedral Cove.
 |  Pauline Stewart  |  ,

It was the specific issue of Cathedral Cove that had local MP Scott Simpson advocate and organise Minister Matt Doocey to come and meet the locals and understand what’s not happening with the Cathedral Cove walking track and the dynamics that have developed since the storms of early 2023.

Conservation Minister Honourable Tama Potaka, had visited Cathedral Cove and met with Ngati Hei Charitable Trust member, Joe Davis and Mayor Len Salt at the invitation of Scott Simpson, MP. Th is had been an unofficial visit just a few days earlier but nonetheless an impetus to some kind of action and sharing of information around Cathedral Cove.

Minister Matt addressed the matter of funding for long-term resilience to enable everything the region needs for reliable tourism industry infrastructure. He spoke clearly of commitment to this funding stream as a long-term task. Th e Minister did not fail to mention that budget priorities were being carefully assessed due to the fact that the country was in debt and the financial situation inherited by the Coalition Government was much worse than initially thought.

However, in consequent interviews, the Minister was clear that tourism and hospitality are priority investments and as the Treasurer carefully does a line-by-line assessment of spend in the previous budget, the key tourist attractions and accompanying infrastructure requirements will remain a priority.

He acknowledged that tourism is a tough sector, many small operators risking their assets and working long hours; and that the Cove is a valuable part of New Zealand “telling our story internationally.” There was a great deal of focus on DOC in various conversations. At this meeting, the Minister carefully addressed the matter of DOC not fixing the track.

He expressed, in terms of the DOC budget, that he now understood more than he did before, but added he was still unsure and a bit confused as to why it has not been prioritised.

Very early that same morning, the Minister had experienced a boat ride to Cathedral Cove – a glorious morning, but owner of Dive Zone, Darryl Bird, was quick to state that. “We have been very lucky this year (referring to the weather) and explained, “there are often times, the weather prevents the boats from taking people to the cove, whereas the walking track is an all-weather option except in extreme circumstances. It needed to be fixed and open and soon.”

TCDC Mayor, Len Salt and CEO, Aileen Lawrie, were present at the meeting and contributed to discussions around local government’s role and to the background of events since the storms of 2023. Everyone is seeking to get the Cathedral Cove track open and resolve the current hiatus.

The Minister used the rest of the day to give a number of interviews to small groups and stake holders, all organised by MP Scott Simpson. The Informer and Coromandel CFM were both granted interviews with Minister for Tourism, Matt Doocey. Important points from the CFM Interview by John Freer on the day of Minister Matt Doocey’s visit and points from John’s interview with Scott Simpson on the same topic, two days earlier, are below.

  • Note: Matt Doocey is also the Minister for Mental Health, Minister for ACC, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister of Health, and Associate Minister of Transport. Matt has been the MP for Waimakarir since the 2014 election.