March 2012 Newsletter

  • Convenor's Report
  • Where To Now For The Great Park Society?

The beginning of the year has been quite quiet, relative to the intensity of the work that has been undertaken by the committee over the past years, with a flurry in December last year.

Bernard Stanley, our Deputy Convenor, has eloquently summarised (below) what we have achieved over these years.

As Bernard has alluded to, our role in the Environment Court has been completed. Thank you to you all once again for all the support you gave us for this arduous process. We are proud of what was achieved - it was through the combined effort of many. The Long Bay Structure Plan that was approved by the Court is complex, and we continue to play a part in monitoring the requirements.

We also continue to liaise with representatives of the Hibiscus Bays Board and of the Auckland Council to keep up-to-date with developments and discuss issues relating to Long Bay Regional Park and the Structure Plan.

As you may recall when we were actively seeking the funds to acquire 'Area D' adjacent to the Heritage Protection Area, the then Auckland Regional Council requested our support in developing a Crimson Walkway linking the regional park to Okura and ultimately linking with the Haigh's Access Walkway on the northern side of the Okura Estuary. This exciting possibility is a step we need to discuss with our membership so I do hope as many of you as possible will be able to come to our AGM to engage in this discussion.

Sadly, we are to lose some of our current executive committee members as their personal circumstances have changed. Some are moving overseas or elsewhere in New Zealand, and others have had to step down for other personal reasons. We are therefore seeking further enthusiastic candidates to join us for our journey forward. Most of us have found the involvement to be interesting and informative, and we are a nice lot of people. We anticipate that the work will not be as intensive and onerous as it was when working on the Court case. However, if we do proceed with new ventures, it does require some commitment.

If you are interested in finding out more of what may be involved if you were to join the committee, or if you know of others who may be interested, you may like to contact me (Phone 09 479 4015) to discuss this further. Otherwise you may like to put your name forward at our AGM. We really would welcome new members.

Meantime, whether you consider standing for the executive committee or not, we do appreciate your continued support and encouragement.

Kind regards
Chris Bettany
Convenor

Where To Now For The Great Park Society?

The challenging days, weeks, months and indeed years of the Long Bay Environment Court case are over. The judge's final decision has been promulgated and the parameters for the urban development have been defined. While we didn't achieve all we fought for, we (the appellant parties in the case) did gain some very significant objectives; particularly the 18 hectare Heritage Protection Area at the toe of the Awaruku Ridge, adjacent to the southern end of the Regional Park; protection of the sight lines from Granny's Bay and Piripiri Ridge; protection of the riparian margins to the streams and development of the Awaruku wetland. This might well be regardedas the culmination of the sixteen years of effort since the foundation of the Society in 1996.

Significant additions to the Regional Park area were also achieved when North Shore City Council purchased the 28.5 hectare Piripiri Reserve at the northern end of the Park, and 6 hectares by the Auckland Regional Council at the southern end following change in ownership in 1998 of the Durafort Block (the last area of the old Vaughan farm remaining outside the Park). The Society had lobbied the Councils to purchase the whole block, which would have been a far sighted investment for a multifaceted Council controlled development including significant expansion of the Regional Park to provide for recreational needs of the burgeoning population of the region for which the Society had long been campaigning. But that is now history.

Resource consents for Stages 1 and 2 of the urban development have been granted by Council, the bulldozers are carving up the former outstanding natural landscape and the development is taking shape. Is this the end of the road for the Great Park Society? Far from it - we still have vital roles to play;

  • In setting up the Heritage Protection Area(HPA) the Environment Court decreed no new building could be constructed on it, the two existing farm houses should remain in their present state and a management plan produced for the area. Subsequently before the SuperCity amalgamation, North Shore Council concluded an agreement to purchase the HPA from the owners, Todd Properties, to ensure it remained in public ownership in perpetuity. While the agreement passed to the new Auckland Council on amalgamation it has still not been consummated. The Society's Executive has been vigorously lobbying Council for this and the other conditions relating to the HPA to be completed and will continue to do so.
  • Under the Resource Management Act the Auckland Council is required to set up a Monitoring Committee including local interest groups to oversee the development. This still isn't up and running despite the development having been underway for nearly two years. The Society has been involved since the outset and is in fact the major, if not sole active representative of the local community directly affected by the Long Bay development. As an extension of our many years of participation in the Waicare testing programme for the Awaruku Stream we are already playing a part in monitoring the sediment discharge from the development into Long Bay and the Marine Reserve. We consider the Society's continued active involvement in the Monitoring Committee is vital to ensuring the conditions of the Environment Court judgement and Council Resource Consents are fully complied with and the best possible outcomes achieved for the community from the development which is scheduled to take up to eight years to complete. This surely is an ongoing responsibility from our participation in the Environment Court case.
  • Following the SuperCity amalgamation volunteer organisations with long term association with the various Regional Parks have seen the need for an umbrella group to maintain the integrity and independence and continued development and growth of the magnificent Auckland Regional Parks network and protect it from immersion in a general parks establishment with possible encroachment and erosion for other purposes. The Society has joined this group named Friends of the Regional Parks as an extension of a long established participation in Long Bay Regional Park management planning, planting days and liaison with Councillors, Park Management and rangers again representing the interests of the local community in our magnificent asset, Long Bay Regional Park.
  • The original vision and mission of the founders of the Society was expansion of the existing 360 acre Regional Park to a Great Park of 1000 acres by acquisition of adjacent farmland. The urban development of the Long Bay catchment posed an obvious threat to that vision which the Society has opposed to the limit of its capability. The opportunity still exists for the expansion of the Park particularly in the Okura catchment. The Crimson Walkway linking Long Bay through to Okura and ultimately the DOC forest reserve on the northern shore of the Okura Estuary and the Te Araroa Walkway beyond is a particularly exciting project to work for.
  • The foregoing are some of the more important continuing functions of the Society within the scope and spirit of the original vision making a valuable contribution to the well being of the local community. While not unduly onerous it does require the participation of interested and committed local people to maintain the status and momentum the Society has built up over the years.

We urge you to attend the Society's Annual General meeting on March 29th and consider active participation as a member of the Executive playing your part in "Caring for Long Bay".

Bernard Stanly
Deputy Convenor

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