The 2017 AGM was an opportunity to update our supporters and thank all of you that have been helping so much. We still have a long way to go to see it through to the end of the Environment Court case, but with your continued support we'll get there. The Convenors reports follow below
Long Bay – Okura Great Park Society
AGM 11 June 2017
Convenor’s Report (Chris Bettany, Convenor 2011 – Dec 2016)
At our AGM in August last year we were celebrating our successes in the Unitary Plan process where we won four out of four of the challenges we were fighting. We were ecstatic that we had:
•Retained most of the rules of Long Bay Structure Plan which so many had fought so hard and long for in previous battles
•Retained the 2 ha zoning for West Okura
•Retained the 4 ha zoning for east Okura opposing the Todd-proposed intensive development on the sou-eastern shores of Okura
•Prevented further development, other than that which had already been consented to, at Weiti.
All of these fights were to protect the glorious legacy which makes up Okura and Long Bay. Okura Estuary’s setting is unique nationally, and maybe internationally, with its combination of a marine reserve being bounded by a beautiful scenic bush reserve on its northern border, a wide regional park on its south eastern border and yet is so close and accessible to a major city. It is the last natural estuary on the eastern shores of Auckland, between Orewa and Maraetai. The Society, collectively with other member groups of the Okura Environmental Group, ie, Friends of Okura Bush, Okura Residents and Ratepayers, Keep Okura Greeen, Dacre Cottage Management Group and Forest and Bird North Shore, valued the acknowledged high quality of its waters, the rich marine life within it, the rare or endangered wading birds which made the estuary their habitat. None of us wanted the magnificent landscape sullied by intensive residential development. We were ecstatic at our victories, and the wider public shared our elation.
A month later, imagine our disappointment when we learned that the owners of the land on the sou-eastern shores of the estuary, Todd Property Ltd, appealed Council’s Unitary Plan decision in the Environment Court, and Weiti Developments appealed the Weiti decision in the High Court on the grounds of a breach of natural justice and breach of legitimate expectations.
The Society’s committee and OEG angst what to do. The Long Bay battles had been long and expensive, the Unitary Plan battle had been multifaceted, complex and expensive. Each had gobbled many hours of volunteer and professional time. Did we want to start again? We appealed to our supporters who gave the mandate to continue. Forest and Bird also became involved with us in opposing Todd’s appeal, and we are working together, with Forest and Bird very kindly offering to pay some of our expert expenses.
The legal processes for each case have begun, with the Environment Court hearing timetabled for September, and the High Court, shortly afterwards, so it will be an intensive next four months for us . Costings for these fights are likely to exceed $200,000.
As well as the Court issues the Society and OEG have been dealing with, we have been following up on other major concerns such as the very alarming levels of sedimentation from earthworks on land adjacent to the Estuary. Pete Townend has been a driving force in dealing with this, alerting Council to our alarm – he will be talking more about this later in the meeting.
Other issues relate to non-compliance of resource consents on land adjacent to the Estuary, namely, street lighting at the end of Vaughan’s Road and into Piripiri Point, and the new consents in regards to Envirofill.
In October last year, I was elected on to the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board on a major plank of retaining the rural urban boundary at Vaughan’s Road, in order to prevent intensive development on the estuary’s shores. I thank everyone’s support in my election, and I continue to advocate strongly for this. However, this was already the Board’s stance, and it has continued to hold it strongly. As it could be perceived as a conflict of interest, I resigned as convenor to the Society in December, but continued to stay on the executive. Pete Townend took over the reigns as acting convenor but, for personal reasons, himself stepped down six weeks ago, and Bob Shaw agreed to taking on this leading role.
We have many people to thank for being able to continue our fights in protecting the marine reserve and surrounds. Our barristers, Martin Williams and Alan Webb have been very kind in the pro bono rates they have been charging us, as have several of our witnesses, such as Andres Roa and Sam Morgan of AR and Associates. Other experts, such as Treffery Barnett, and supporters, such as Fiona McLoughlin, have given generously of their time and expertise.
The member groups of the Okura Environmental Group have all contributed financially very generously to the ongoing fight
To the executive – who have angst and worried and debated at monthly meetings and more - and continued to believe in protecting these special areas, special to all Auckland not just the locals, another big thank you is due. These are Pete Townend and Bob Shaw of course, and Bernard Stanley, Teresa Moore, Lezette Reid, Jenny Anderson, Pat Baskett, Bruce Usher, and our treasurer, Barry Tripp, who doesn’t attend the exec meetings but keeps the books. We were sorry to lose Di Gatward during the year who stepped down for personal reasons. The Gatwards have had a long history with the Society, her husband, Dave, being the inaugural chairperson of the Society way back in 1996. She has continued to be an active supporter, especially in organising our public meetings.
Thanks go to our local councillors, Wayne Walker and John Watson. They continue to work really hard in Council for our causes. And to Julia Parfitt and the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board. They have supported the stance we have had for many years and consistently spoken well for us in Council.
There are many others who have helped over these years – Joc Coburn with the membership database, Maj De Poorter managing our website and facebook skills. A huge thanks must go to person who has made the amazing videos which have been aired on Facebook and on the website. He wishes to remain anonymous, but his work is much appreciated. Thanks to those who have had specific one-off roles, such as our auditor, Warwick Sumpter, Thank you to each of you.
There are all the members and supporters who have given words of encouragement, bourn us with patience as we continually sought funding, sometimes large amounts, and have given graciously and generously. Without this support, we would not have been so successful in the Unitary Plan process, not be able to continue to fight for the final victory we wish to achieve.
There are others who have helped in many other quiet unobtrusive and voluntary ways. I am sorry to not name everyone, but we thank you too.
We have a demanding four months ahead of us (hopefully followed by a very joyful celebration), and so we welcome any new members to the exec. I urge you to think about this as we go to the election of officers.
We still have a role and mandate to ensure the protection of the coastal land and sea of Long Bay and Okura, and maybe even beyond so that we do not have to keep going through these continual battles.
I’ve spoken more than long enough. I sincerely thank you once again for your loyal, generous and continuing support. But even as I thank you, I urge you to keep this support going, as we seek the large funds needed to keep us going to look after this jewel of Auckland.
I move that my report be accepted. I’m also happy to answer questions. But remember we have Pete’s very interesting videos and update following and we want time for these.
Convenor 2011 – Dec 2016
Long Bay Okura Great Parks Society
2017 Annual Report (Peter Townend - Deputy Convenor and acting Convenor for some of the year)
From the 2016 AGM the Board has been working at a fanatic pace.
The Auckland Unitary Plan battle was massive for the board and a roller coaster of emotions.
What to fight for and how to fund it was a constant issue.
We lost the battle to sway the Panel to save the Okura Hills and then the councillors stepped in and won the day.
We won to regain the important Long Bay Structure Plan issues and the prevention of the Weiti Development spreading from the approved 550 houses to 1750 including the coast to Stillwater.
Current issues being addressed
Todd’s is appealing to the Environment Court to urbanise the southern hills of Okura. This case is being vigorously fought by the Board with Forrest & Bird and the Council all trying to prevent this development.
Williams is appealing in a Judicial Review to get his increases on the Weiti Property, we are strenuously opposing this.
We have Supported Keep Okura Green Incorporated who has been trying to hold any Developers to account over the sedimentation issues entering the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve.
The ongoing monkey around the Boards neck is the funding of what needs to be done, the costs are large. We are however well on our way to raising the funds required to keep the Societies Aims moving forward. Yet we cannot rest as we still need $150000.00 in the next three months to give justice a fair shot of winning the day.
Cheers and thanks for all the support.
Deputy Convenor and acting Convenor for some of the year.