A scathing public letter by Hawke's Bay iwi has accused Craggy Range winery of fanning racial tensions, after they last week proposed options to rectify the Te Mata Peak walking track.
The controversial 2.4km track was last year carved into land on Te Mata Peak which Craggy Range owns south of Hastings.
A huge backlash from Ngati Kahungunu iwi who accused the track of "scarring" the sacred Te Mata Peak, led to Craggy Range deciding to remove it on December 23, 2017.
Last week, the winery released five possible options to Hastings District Council on how to do this.
But today, Ngati Kahungunu iwi leader, Ngahiwi Tomoana, released a letter to the media, addressed to Craggy Wines director Mary-Jeanne Hutchinson, alleging their past assurance to remediate the track was now "disingenuous".
Last week's expert land report commissioned by Craggy Wines confirmed remediation would never get the land back to its original condition, and resulted in protests.
"Your barrister and professional director were naïve in trying to frighten us with legal action. Your manager is caught in the headlights and doesn't know his way forward but again he treats us like dumb savages from the wopwops," Mr Tomoana wrote.
In the letter, Mr Tomoana said the agreement with Craggy Range winery in December 2017 was that the track would be "remediated as best as possible but not to its pre-track INTEGRITY".
The land is sacred to Maori with the peak believed to be the face of an ancestral chief.
Source: 1 NEWS
"However, last week we got a 'take or leave it' proposal from your manager, director and barrister that was underwhelming and relegated your previous promise as disingenuous," Mr Tomoana said.
"The capacity to mitigate this issue must come from the top. It's not about just the track anymore, because the polarisation it has caused is strumming the strings of racial tension of lynch mob potential, watered and fed by your director, barrister and manager whose integrity I have lost faith in."
Craggy Range winery responds
In response to the public letter this morning, Craggy Range responded to 1 NEWS, denying that they had encouraged racial tensions or made legal threats.
Craggy Range CEO Mike Wilding said he was disappointed Mr Tomoana chose to send his letter to media.
"Craggy Range has not 'threatened legal action' at all. What we have said is that Craggy Range could itself face legal action from other parties if we attempt to remove the track," Mr Wilding said.
"We've said that should Mana Whenua and Hastings District Council not be able to agree between themselves to any of the remediation solutions put forward by independent experts, then we would have no option but to resort to seeing through the resource consent that was granted by HDC on 17 October 2017, which is still legally binding.
Craggy Range winery has presented alternative options for keeping the Hawke’s Bay track.
Source: 1 NEWS
"I refute entirely Ngahiwi’s claims that we are fanning racial tensions, when in fact we have done nothing more than put forward a set of open and reasoned arguments for the options that are open for them to decide from.
"Our entire focus is on delivering the best solution for the community, but we cannot implement one that our experts have advised leaves the landscape and community in a worse position."
Craggy Range director Mary Jean Hutchinson whom Mr Tomoana addressed in his letter as "your estranged friend" also released a short response.
"I would always take Ngahiwi's call, so I'll respond to him in person, not through the media," Ms Hutchinson said.