A proposal in the draft Mauao management plan to remove climbers from the Maunga has resulted in a large number of climbers opposing the issue.
The reason for removing climbers – the protection of a rare plant – was challenged by the climbing community at a recent submissions hearing, who insist the climbing section on the north face hasn't damaged or endangered any of the plants during the decades climbers have been using the rock face.
Climber David Ellacot says the three reasons given for removing climbers haven't been fully assessed.
The Mauao Ecological Assessment of January 2015 found that impacts on the psilotum nudum population on the bluffs are minor or absent and the population is stable.
“Several years ago, the local Forest and Bird chapter had logged two psilotum nudum plants which are in prominent positions on climbing routes,” says David in his submission, “and they are still there to this day.”
A more recent survey shows psilotum nudum is prominent across the crag and this is after more than three decades of climbing activity, says David.
Public safety claims were also dismissed.
“The perceived safety issue for the public walking on the track, below the crags while climbers are above, is also not understood well,” he adds. “Climbers have chosen that area to climb on as the rock itself is solid.”
During a site visit in September, it was thought the current climbing crag does not have any wahi tapu sites.
Climbing on the Mount is supported by both the city council's Open Space Strategy and Sport Active Living Strategy, says David.
“Both documents support climbing to continue on Mauao with Tauranga having an active climbing community both locally and on the national climbing stage.”
“I recommend that a more collaborative framework is set up between the climbing community and Nga Poutiriao o Mauao.
“This aligns with another of the Active Living Strategy principles that partnership and collaborative approaches are vital to the delivery of sport and active living opportunities in our communities.”