Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cook Landing Site, Gisborne

The site, in Gisborne, of the first point of contact of the land between Maori and Pakeha and of Cook's first landing in New Zealand is an historic site of immense importance. In 1990, its designation as a National Historic Reserve reinforce the status. The current risk to this special place is not new. The compromise of the site's relationship with its wider context, and in particular its links to the sea and views across Poverty Bay to Te Kuri a Paoa (Young Nick's Head), has been a matter of local and national concern for more than fifty years.

The site has changed dramaticaly since 1906 when Sir James Carroll unveiled a granite monument there. In 1957 the new Regional Committee of the Historic Places Trust began the struggle to retain a satisfactory relationship between the site and the sea. Years of persistence were rewarded when a small area was finally set aside as a reserve in 1964. It took nearly thirty more years, until 1990, to establish a scenic easement (the Cone of Vision) from the monument to the sea. But this has not protected the site's integrity.

Today industrial buildings hem the monument in and views to the sea are obscured by piles of logs and wood chips which are deemed temporary and therefore allowed under the 1990 decision. Today only the Cone of Vision issue is delaying the Gisborne District Plan from becoming operative. Despite three years of mediation a solution has yet to be reached. The ideal solution will allow the Port of Gisborne to grow but protect the integrity of the Landing Site.

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