Category Archives: News

Okura Land Holdings Withdraw Appeal To High Court

The Long Bay Okura Great Park Society is celebrating another milestone. Okura Land Holdings, a subsidiary of Todd Corporation, have announced their intention to withdraw an appeal scheduled to be heard in May in the High Court.

The company had appealed a 2017 decision of the Environment Court which prevented them from building up to 2000 houses on the southern shore of the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve.

Development is restricted by the existing rural-urban boundary (RUB) which OHL had wanted moved north from the ridge above the Okura river to the estuary itself. The Society’s reaction to the withdrawal of the appeal is tempered by recent announcements of housing minister Phil Twyford.

He has warned that restrictions such as the RUB may be replaced with “a more expansive approach to spatial planning that will protect areas of special value, invest in transport infrastructure and allow the city to grow.”

The Society remains cautiously optimistic that the Okura land will continue to be recognised as of “special value”.

The enormous community support has motivated the Society over more than 25 years to protect the marine reserve, the adjoining regional park and surrounding rural land from the effects of the city’s continuing expansion. “In the long term we hope there will be public access and expansion of the Long Bay Regional Park walkway into the Okura estuary,” said the Society’s acting convenor, Bruce Usher. “This area can only become increasingly important as a recreational amenity for the city.”

Post AGM Newsletter April 2018

The AGM of 2018 was, in one special way, a significant occasion. After seven years as convenor and 18 on the committee, Chris Bettany has retired. Her commitment to the long term well-being of this part of the city continues, though, in her work as a local board member. Her careful attention to detail and her eloquent pleadings for money have contributed to the high standing of the society and enabled us to achieve what seemed impossible – participation in last year’s Environment Court hearings.
Despite no decision from the Court (as of writing), the society is forging ahead into what may be a new era. Pat Baskett is now convenor, Peter Townend continues as deputy and all members of the old executive were keen to continue their roles.
We have been invited by Auckland Council to participate in their Okura-Weiti Contaminant study and have already met with officers for briefings on the parameters of the study and to determine our role in the process. This will involve employing, and paying, our own modeller to work alongside and provide an overview of the Council’s work.
The study is planned to run from April to October.
The continued vigilance of a couple of members on the executive alerted us and the media to the recent massive die-off of the cockle beds. No explanation has been forthcoming but it’s hard to dismiss, as a cause, the effects of plumes of silt that have poured into the marine reserve with each heavy rainfall.
Protection of the marine reserve, along with the concept of a Great Park – even greater, given population pressures – remain the Society’s raison d’etre. Only the detail of our activities are likely to change once we learn whether the judge allows, or not, another 1000 houses to be built on the estuary’s southern shore. Watch this space!
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WE ARE ECSTATIC! Huge win for New Zealand!!

The Environment Court has declined Okura Holdings’ appeal to develop a 1000+ house subdivision adjacent to the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve! This has been a momentous battle. Together we raised $320,000 to save this precious area. Thanks to everyone for helping us in so many ways. #SaveOkura

This is what the Court had to say:
The Environment Court has declined Okura Holdings’ appeal to develop a 1000+ house subdivision adjacent to the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve! This has been a momentous battle. Together we raised $320,000 to save this precious area. Thanks to everyone for helping us in so many ways. #SaveOkura

This is what the Court had to say:

“We were not confident that the OHL proposal would protect marine ecology from adverse effects”

“The OHL proposal will have significant adverse effects on natural character and landscape values of the site and surrounding environment.”

“OHL and its advisors failed to take a broad overview … the distinctive sense of place and special character qualities of the Estuary and its high vulnerability to potential adverse effects of urban development”

Marine Reserve Catchment Study Announced

Last week the Auckland Council announced a holistic approach to the issues at Weiti, Long Bay and the Marine Reserve. The announcement states:
“Late last year Auckland Council started to develop a comprehensive whole-of-catchment model to enable the council and the public to understand the effects of development in all catchments feeding into the Long Bay – Okura Marine Reserve.”

This is a great victory for all the people who have contributed to the Society’s activities over the last 30 years.

The council staff have asked for the society’s involvement in the study. Obviously, it is an opportunity that would be hard to ignore so the committee will meet council staff to discuss how to effectively contribute while keeping our objectives in mind.

Click here for the Council’s announcement:
http://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2018/3/auckland-council-takes-holistic-approach-to-weiti

From the Public Gallery: so Now we wait

“Interesting” was Justice Dwyer’s description of the hearing that finished just before 1pm on Thursday November 2 in the Auckland Environment Court.
“It’s been,” he said, “a very interesting case.” And a long one – its original allocation of two weeks was extended by a day and a half. How it might compare with other cases Judge Dwyer has heard since he joined the Environment Court in 2006 we don’t know. But his interest and attention during the, at times excruciating, process of cross-examination appeared never to flag.
Several Great Park Society board members attended each day on behalf of you as members. We wanted our presence to be a visible reminder that this small piece of Auckland is loved by so many and that a thousand houses are no substitute for an estuary that is a life-giving reservoir for the Hauraki Gulf.
Attempts were made by the appellants’ witnesses to demonstrate the potential benefits of urbanisation but we felt the Society’s lawyer Martin Williams dealt with each claim more than adequately. The key issue it seems, according to Resource Management Act language, is whether “adverse effects” on the marine reserve, on the Outstanding Natural Landscape and the Significant Ecological Area, can be “avoided” – not just remedied or mitigated.
Judge Dwyer warned that with a busy court work load and the large amount of work needed to finalise their decision, along with Xmas and holidays, it will likely be March before he and Commissioners Bartlett, Dunlop and Bunning release their decision. In the meantime, we continue to hope and to fundraise. We’re confident that, one way or another, our (your!) money will have been well spent.