Lake Taupo charges

Mike Watson at Dom Post reports:

The Ironman event is to go ahead after local iwi and organisers agreed to a confidential settlement.

Discussions were held all week after owners Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board sought to charge a levy for Ironman New Zealand competitors to use the lake for the swim leg of the international triathlon, to be held next weekend.

The trust board was reported to be seeking a $40 levy for each entrant, which would have netted about $58,000.

Mayor Rick Cooper said he was sickened and saddened by yesterday’s announcement. “If a charge has been set for the use of the lake I would be extremely sad; in fact, I feel sick to hear it. …

Ngati Tuwharetoa, under a revised deed of settlement signed with the Crown in 2007, are considered legal owners of the lake bed and air space above it, and have the right to license commercial users of the lake.

I’m pretty appalled myself.

I can understand the agreement Labour made in 2007 as part of a settlement that commercial users may have to pay a fee. To my mind that was intended for activities which are primarily about making a profit – say a jet ski hire operation.

But sporting events should not be treated in the same way. Charging $40 a person for swimming in the lake just goes against the grain.

If any future agreements include use of lakes, it would be highly desirable for commercial use to exclude sporting events.

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