Visitors blocked from Matakana Island

Panepane wharf at Matakana Island has been blocked off by a large pile of debris. Photos: Ryan Wood.

Access to Panepane wharf on Matakana Island has been blocked by a pile of debris, apparently left to mark a tribal boundary.

Kewpie Cruises owner Brandon Stone discovered the obstacle earlier today.

'We usually run a scenic cruise to the island and let people off at the wharf to enjoy the beach, but we can't do that now,” he says.

Cruises have been leaving on the hour since 11am from the Pilot Bay wharf, but passengers have to be informed by the skipper that no one is able to be dropped off at the island.

The significant pile of debris appears to be made up of clumps of fence palings tried up with barbed wire, as well as some large logs or driftwood.

A sign at the end of the wharf reads: 'This is the tribal boundary of Tauwhao, Te Ngare, Tamawhariua, Tauairi, and Tuwhiwhia.”

The name ‘Bob Rolleston' also appears underneath, accompanied by the words ‘kaumatua' and ‘hapu elder'.

The phrase ‘bugga off' is also written down the side of the sign.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council deputy CEO Gary Allis says they've been informed of the situation.

'We're aware of a protest on Matakana Island that looks like it wants to restrict public access from the wharf to the land.

"It appears that this is an isolated, lone protest and we have arranged for the debris and sign to be removed as soon as possible.”

Matakana Island resident Des Samuels was not aware of the debris blocking the wharf until contacted by SunLive this afternoon.

'Like any community, we address issues together, usually in monthly hui. It shouldn't come as a surprise the people here are quite protective of the island and our lifestyle. We try to take care of things as best we can.

'I have been a tour operator in the past, and sometimes there were issues relating to the forest, such as people freely walking around in there. Everyone needs a permit to enter the forest, including island people.”

Des also says visitors to the island can occasionally exhibit irresponsible, and even dangerous behaviour.

'I belong to the volunteer fire brigade, and we attended a big camp fire on the beach on New Year's Day. We found a whole lot of campers asleep on the beach with a big fire blazing. That's an example of what we're trying to keep on top of.

'A fire at this time of year starts putting island people in danger, as there are families who still live in the forest.”

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