September 2006 Newsletter

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  • Heritage issues at Long Bay - Okura

Heritage issues at Long Bay - Okura

Historic heritage is defined in the Resource Management Act which is the principal governing Act under which urban development is controlled as

a) Those natural and physical resources that contribute to an understanding and appreciation of NZ history and cultures including;

b) (i) Historic sites and buildings
(ii) Archaeological sites
(iii) Sites of significance to Maori including Waahi Tapu
(iv) Surroundings associated with natural and physical resources.

Section 6 of the Act sets out matters of national importance that people with functions under the RMA to achieve sustainable management, such as councils, have to recognize and provide for.

a) Preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment including the coastal marine area, wetlands, lakes and rivers and protect them from inappropriate subdivision use and development.

b) The protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes from inappropriate subdivision, use and development.

c) The protection of areas of significant indigenous flora and fauna.

d) The maintenance and enhancement of public access to and along the coastal marine area, lakes and rivers.

e) The relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu and other taonga.

f) The protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision use and development.

Unbeknown to most of the public the Long Bay – Okura peninsula abounds in heritage sites both archaeological and historic – the former pre European Maori and the latter pre 1900 European colonial.

The reason for this lack of knowledge is that with the exception of the Vaughan Homestead which received Historic Places classification in 1992, all are unmarked and at or below ground level.

Archaeological sites

About 95 archaeological sites have been identified in the Long Bay – Okura area and registered by the NZ Archaeological Association which maintains the national register of such sites. However recent further investigation within the relatively small area of the Long Bay Structure Plan by a more sophisticated modern method indicates a considerable number of additional sites exist.

An archaeological investigation by Clough and Associates commissioned by NSCC in 1999 confirmed the existence of 19 sites within the Structure Plan area. Clougn described these as “typical for pre-European Maori settlements, defensive pa, living terraces, storage pits and extensive midden indicative of long settlement and use of the regions agricultural and marine resources.”

The Russell Foster Consultants report May 2005 states “The historic heritage resources identified form a heritage landscape composed principally of very old unique archaeological sites of particular significance to Maori. These sites are thought to be remnants of the pre-European encampments used during the shark fishing and whaling seasons and likely to have associations such as a resting place for groups making use of the land crossing to the Waitemata. It is considered they could represent a large portion of the period of human occupation of NZ and appear to be unique survivors of pre-European usage not only in North Shore City but the wide region. No similar group of sites survives along the East Coast of the City or even past Orewa and are relatively intact and undisturbed by modern standards.”

The reference to the land crossing to the Waitemata is amplified in the Te Hao o Mgato Whatua Report Sept 2005 prepared for the NSCC which states “The area (pathway) Pukekauere ascends from Long Bay and connects to two important intersections in the Waitakeres and on to the shores of the Manukau to the south and north-west to the eastern Kaipara. These pathways were extremely important for seasonal fishing excursions and as communication links and more importantly to exercise their ahi kea (keeping the fires burning) their occupation rights to the lands and waters.”

The Te Hao report states “We also know from historical records the entire length of this (North Shore) coastline was inhabited from the 14th century. As there has been extensive loss and modification of Maori heritage in North Shore City retention of what remains is even more so (ie., important) as they are taonga (treasure) to be secured for the future generations.”

In evidence to the Structure Plan Commission Hearing Nov 2005, Great Park Society and Iwi under the Okura Environment Group banner strongly advocated the creation of a comprehensive Heritage Landscape encompassing all the Awaruku Ridge and lower Vaughan stream catchment linking with the Regional Park which would include a large proportion of the identified sites rather than a scattered array of fenced sites interspersed with urban development as provided for in the Structure Plan. Regrettably the Commission largely ignored our submissions in its decision.

The Long Bay Structure Plan does provide a limited Heritage Protection Zone around one large site (201) only but this provides dubious protection at best as Council has retained discretionary
rights to allow development in the future.

Historic Sites

The Crown purchased the Mahurangi block (some say dubiously) of which the coastal North Shore was a part in 1841. George Vaughan bought a 220 acre block fronting Long Bay in 1862 which the Vaughan family farmed till 1964 when ARA purchased the existing Regional Park and the Robinson family, Durafort Trust bought the balance. The area was extensively logged for kauri timber and subsequently exploited for kaori gum which the Vaughans traded while progressively developed for farming. Evidence of these historical activities still exist within the Structure Plan area and are considered by archaeologists to be worthy of protection and preservation.

We believe the Heritage Landscape Concept encompassing all identified sites both archaeological and historic in the lower Vaughan catchment with explanatory notices and linked by pathways connecting to the Crimson Walkway offers the best means of protection for the Heritage assets of the area with huge potential for cultural, educational and tourism activities and is entirely compatible with the Great Park vision. We will continue to work towards its creation with Iwi and other interested parties and are hopeful it will receive due recognition in the Environment Court.

Bernard Stanley
Deputy Convenor

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