The Okura Estuary – the last estuary on urban Auckland’s eastern coastline unsullied by urban development – is a special haven to the bird and marine wildlife that lives there. However, all this stands to be destroyed by the Auckland Unitary Plan Hearings Panel’s decision to allow urban development in the area. Please let the Council know that you want the Estuary saved by signing the Long Bay Okura Great Park Society’s petition at https://www.change.org/p/save-the-okura-estuary
The Panel’s recommendation to move the Rural Urban Boundary will permit Todd Property Ltd. to carry out an extensive housing development on the rural southern side of the Okura Estuary. The development will irrevocably destroy the quiet natural beauty of the Estuary and turn the area into another intensive Long Bay housing area.
At present the waters of the Okura Estuary teem with wildlife. The northern coast is lush with the Okura Bush Scenic Reserve with its 500-year old Kauri and Puriri trees. The southern headland of the Estuary is the isolated northern end of the Long Bay Regional Park with its infinite Hauraki Gulf views. All of this is easily accessible from Auckland, and all of it is under threat.
Over 70,000 people walk the coastal Okura Bush Scenic Reserve walkway per annum, part of the Te Araroa Trail, enjoying the experience of walking amongst mature native forest and the stunning views of the estuary. This experience will be sadly diminished by the proposed urban development directly across from the many lookouts along the walkway.
The experience of the cliffs and bays of Long Bay Regional Park will change for the million Aucklanders who visit the Park annually. Currently insulated from urban development by the buffers put in place by the Long Bay Structure Plan, the Panel’s extension of the Rural Urban Boundary to include Okura will place housing directly on the boundary of Piripiri Point. What was an easily-accessible, yet tranquil, rural spot with stunning views will now be overlooked by dense urban housing.
The recommendation crushes two earlier decisions of the Environment Court that the area should be protected for future generations. It also tramples over the Panel’s own classification of the Estuary and its environs which the Panel rated as an Outstanding Natural Landscape and a Significant Ecological Area.
Fortunately, the Hearings Panel does not have the final say in the matter. At the Unitary Plan Hearing, the Auckland Council, recognizing the importance of the area, made a strong stand to protect the Estuary. It is now up to the Council to determine whether they will maintain their stance when it deliberates on whether it will accept or reject the Panel’s recommendation when they meet later next week.
The Hearings Panel’s decision to allow the urbanisation of Okura is a devastating blow to the environment, the millions who continue to enjoy the area and the tens of thousands who have worked hard to make this possible. Let us hope that the Auckland Council have the sense to reject it.
Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/save-the-okura-estuary
Many Thanks for your support,
Long Bay Okura Great Park Society