Blue Springs supporters apprehensive about café plans

By Talisa Kupenga

An application to build a cafe on private land near Putaruru's Blue Springs has caused conflict in the small community. Raukawa Settlement Trust has been considering Cheryl Waite's proposal for six-months, but with the increase in visitor numbers, it says it is concerned about the bigger picture and the impact on the environment.

The pure waters of the Blue Springs. Its waters are the reason why the iwi has delayed its response to a cafe application.

The Chair of the Raukawa Settlement Trust, Vanessa Eparaima says, "We absolutely will come back in terms of a response to that application, but let me say, that's part of the bigger picture. The bigger picture is the damage being done to this beautiful pristine area."

Cheryl Waite wants to build a cafe on her private land, a 15-minute walk from the Blue Springs.

"A lot of people would say, let’s go for a swim at the Blue Springs and hopefully have something to eat before we drove home, that was mainly what it was all about. I hope that it provides jobs and that people enjoy it, nice atmosphere."

Last week, a petition against the cafe was started on change.org and has received more than 2500 signatures.

Te Kāea interviewed visitors from the Blue Springs who said they were fifty-fifty about the proposal, while some say a café is a great idea, they also agreed it was nice to have a secluded spot.

This water is so pure it supplies 70% of our bottled water, and you can drink it straight from the stream.

"So we're looking at options that, as I said, create that balance. We're not against economic growth, we're not against employment, that's part of who we are and we see the benefits of that, but that should not be at the detriment of the environment," says Eparaima.

Visitor numbers spiked to nearly 9000 in January, an increase from more than 5000 the month before. South Waikato District Council says it is aware of pressure at the spring and is consulting with community and iwi for a future-proofed management plan.