Hamish Edwards’ golf course team lodges Environment Court appeal

Hamish Edwards in action at The Hills golf course on day one of the ISPS Handa NZ Open at Arrowtown 2018. Photo / Michael Thomas, www.photosport.nz

A company that wants to build a world-class oceanfront golf course near Ōhau has to challenge a recent decision rejecting the resource commitment in court.

Grenadier Ltd has appealed to the Environmental Court after an application for resource consent was rejected by a Horizons regional council following a hearing in Levin in May.

Grenadier’s attorney, John Maassen, has since appealed to the Environmental Court, citing “errors and deficiencies” in the Horizons panel’s analysis as grounds for appeal.

A hearing is expected in Wellington later this year.

In their decision, Horizons commissioners Christine Foster, Reg Proffitt and Dr. Fluer Maseyk consent to earthworks and clearing of vegetation in areas of the foreshore.

The panel was also concerned about the impact the approval would have on the relationship between iwi and their ancestral lands.

Part of the 107-hectare block of coast – which is privately owned – was the site of a pre-1900 pa called Tirotirowhetu, considered of high cultural importance and wāhi tapu for the local iwi.

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Of the three iwi involved in the consent hearing, Muaūpoko and Ngāti Kikopiri had since signaled their support for the golf course, while Ngāti Tukorehe remains opposed.

Grenadier chief Hamish Edwards said broader community support was behind the decision to appeal Horizons’ decision.

“Why are we appealing? Because it is our legal right to do so and because there has been a tremendous amount of support from the community, from business, from golfers – and from iwi,” he said.

“You tell me we appreciate what you do.”

Edwards said there was an opportunity for iwi to share their history and relationship with the country and saw this as an integral part of the development.

“I don’t want to pay lip service to the country’s ancestral and cultural history, but this really needs iwi’s guidance and iwi’s help…it will tell their story,” he said.

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“To my knowledge it will be the first golf course in New Zealand to do that.”

“But for that we have to build a golf course.”

Edwards said a golf course would shape the land far less than its use as a forest block, dairy farm or potential housing development.

“We believe we can restore the dunes in a sensitive and sensible way that respects the country and iwi,” he said.

Edwards said the project will fully fund plans to eradicate exotic weed species and bring more than 185,000 native plants back to the country as part of restoration efforts.

“This work is part of the process…it will be a shining example of environmental improvement,” he said.

Edwards said Grenadier will employ local contractors and companies whenever possible. Up to 100 people would be involved in building the 18-hole links course, which is expected to cost more than $50 million to complete.

An aerial view of the original plans of the Douglas Links golf course, showing the Ohau River to the right and the Tasman Sea to the west.
An aerial view of the original plans of the Douglas Links golf course, showing the Ohau River to the right and the Tasman Sea to the west.

“If a judge says you can’t build a golf course, that’s pretty much the end of the project… that’s fine. I’m a businessman, this is business, you don’t take it personally,” he said.

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“But if we get the green light, we’re going to build a great golf course. He will be the jewel in the crown of the Horowhenua.”

If approved, the proposal could be open to the public by October 2025. The course would attract an estimated 15,000 golfers annually and would be accessible to golfers of all skill levels, he said.

“The numbers are still piling up. It will bring a modest profit, and that profit will be reinvested in the country,” he said.

Maassen said in the appeal that the proposal was course-bound, sticking to certain design components with little room for further redesign.

“If these design components cannot be achieved, then there is no point in building the golf course within the proposal as it will lack the attributes and ultimately the caliber required to attract golf enthusiasts,” it said.

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