Current discussions over the possibility of transferring land at Panepane Point back to local hapu has stirred up some controversy in the community, and not without reason.
Panepane Point is the southernmost end of Matakana Island. It was purchased by local government at market rate in 1923 through the Public Works Act as a site for a beacon and navigation lights at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour.
The land was stabilised, the lighting structure was installed, and it has been used and maintained ever since.
Under the provisions of the Public Works Act, if the land is no longer used for the purpose it was acquired for it should first be offered back to the original vendors (in this case, the five hapu) at market price - the same way in which it was bought.
However, the area is still being used and maintained. The title to this land cannot simply be transferred back to the hapu. It is outside the mandate of the council to do this, and would set a dangerous precedent.
The provisions of the Public Works Act must be adhered to and applied to everyone. If not, then we are on a slippery slope.
I hope those involved in this decision-making will think long and hard about the implications of what they are considering.