21.08.08 16:57 Age: 10 yrs

They'll be coming around the mountain

Category: Media


Joanna Davies of The Aucklander looks at the latest chapter in the saga of Mt Eden - a $3.5 million makeover for its dilapidated tearooms

Langton's Tea Kiosk at the foot of Mt Eden is in a sorry state.

The 1920s cafe doesn't have tenants. It does have vandals.
Council is moving forward with a $3.5 million plan to turn the once-charming tearooms into a visitor centre.
It's part of the long-running debate over how Maungawhau/Mt Eden should be managed.
More than a million visitors flock to the cone each year, three times as many as go to Milford Sound.
But the volume of tourist buses and walkers has put the mountain's historic features at risk.
The prospect of renovating Langton's has been voiced by the council for some time, but it was not the preferred choice for a visitors' centre.
The council first looked into building a new visitors' centre in Tahaki Reserve for around $20 million.
After deciding this was not viable, the council suggested renovating the kiosk.
The rebuilt Langton's would include a cafe and basic displays.
From there visitors could take existing tracks or a shuttle ride to the summit.
Heavy vehicles would be banned from the summit road and cars not be allowed after certain times.
After its $3.5 million makeover, the kiosk would become an "interpretation centre'.
That will focus on geological, spiritual and historical aspects of Maungawhau-Mt Eden, and be a base for transport to the summit.
The centre would cater for 400,000 visitors a year.
There might be a small café, also hosting community meetings, and a tiny shop.

The building needs major work to meet earthquake safety standards.

Maungawhau Advisory Group chairman Bob Demler says there is no time frame for the changes.

"The management plan is a plan only. The overall management and restoration - none of that has been put in place.

"Councillors are wanting to provide a joint venture with the private sector to do the work, which could affect the management.'

Greg Moyle, who chairs the council's arts, culture and recreation committee, says the council is interested in a public or private partner to complete the fit-out and lease the kiosk as soon as possible.

"We have not acted in the best interests of the people of Auckland by letting it get into such a state, being untenanted and vandalised.

"There's no reason we couldn't start the earthwork almost immediately.'

Ngati Whatua o Orakei, the iwi that won the right to negotiate its claim on Maungawhau-Mt Eden in 2006, says restoration work on the summit is a priority.

"Issues such as buses on the summit - those all need to be worked through,' says chief executive Tiwana Tibble.

Since 2006, other iwi have also made claims to share ownership of the iconic mountain.

Mr Moyle says this has to be negotiated and all interested parties must have their say.
Langton's is one of the last buildings left standing around the Maungawhau reserve area.

The St Barnabas Scout hall in Tahaki Reserve is also empty.

The scout group that leased the building off the council for over 50 years was asked to leave in 2006 when it failed to recruit members.

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