March 2011 Newsletter

  • Development has started
  • AGM – and call for further committee members
  • A happy celebration
  • The earthworks at Long Bay
  • Run-off from recent rain events

I can hardly believe that we are now into our third month of the year. We in Auckland have had a beautifully hot and sunny summer and the Long Bay Regional Park was well used.

So popular was the Park during the January weekends, many cars were turned away as the parking fields were full. But all who visited the Park would have been saddened and perhaps shocked to see that the earthworks for the initial stages of development have started. No longer do we see a great green expanse as we approach the Park, heralding that
we are about to leave urbanisation behind and enter a coastal rural getaway.

That approach has now been lost forever.

However, we can rejoice that we, through the Environment Court, have protected from development, a large area of the headland as you enter the park, that is, the Heritage Protection Area. And, of course, the North Shore City Council, before being absorbed into the Auckland Council, was able to acquire further land you will see as you approach the park. This is what we celebrated on our Open Day held in November last year.

Thanks to all our members

I would like to thank all our members and supporters again for the contribution each has made to our Society’s success to date. You have been tremendous. However, I remind you all of the original vision of the 1000 acre Great Park and a long-held aim to develop the Crimson Walkway at the Okura end of Long Bay. I hope you will continue to walk with us while we further explore this aim.

AGM – and call for further committee members

And with this vision in mind, as you will have seen on the cover of the newsletter, we have our AGM on the 24th of this month. Currently we have a small committee with some members having had to resign during the year because of personal changes in circumstances. We do welcome new members on to the committee. If you would like to find out more about what is involved, please ring me on (09) 479 4015 and I would be happy to discuss this with you. We do not anticipate such an intensely busy year this year with the Environment Court case
completed at this stage, the Long Bay Structure Plan almost ready for sign-off, and the lobbying for Area D over. However, as mentioned above, there are still other issues in regards to our vision that we are still actively pursuing.

Kind regards
Chris Bettany

A happy celebration

As you will be aware from earlier letters and newsletters, we were absolutely delighted that the outgoing North Shore City Council was able to secure at the eleventh hour an agreement to acquire the Heritage Protection Area (18.7 hectares) so that it will remain in public ownership into perpetuity. As part of the whole deal, the Council also procured another 13 public reserves totaling a further 4.6 hectares within the Long Bay Structure Plan area, and stormwater and esplanade areas in the Awaruku Stream and Vaughan Flats areas, yet a further 14.8 hectares which will become public land and open recreation space.

We warmly congratulated the Mayor of the City, Andrew Williams, the Deputy Mayor, Julia Parfitt, and all others involved in accomplishing this achievement which did not
come without blood, sweat and tears (well, almost!).

One of our members, Anne Lowe, came up with the idea of wanting an event to celebrate all that the Society had achieved since its inception fourteen years ago – including the part it played in the North Shore City Council’s purchase of PiriPiri Point and the Auckland Regional Council’s purchase of further strategic pieces of land, the success the Society had in the Environment Court in protecting from development yet further substantial areas of land adjacent to the Regional Park, and of course the part it played in the latest acquisition. Thus the Open Day/ Information Day/ Celebration Day, which we held last month. What a success that was, and thank you to all involved.

By our ‘guess-timate’, over three hundred people attended and many said how they had thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it very informative. Our art auction was most successful in raising funds from interesting art pieces so generously donated by so many. The Devonshire Teas were a huge success and brought yet further funds, as did the raffle of gardening products donated by Bunnings, and other gestures, such as a percentage on sales of a children’s board game. However, the main intent of the day was not to raise funds, but to inform the membership and wider public of what had been achieved and where we are up to now. The model and other informative displays proved to be most popular, a real hit of the day. We were very pleased that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of our now extinguished North Shore City Council were able to attend as our guest speakers and give further historical background. Thank you to all who made the day such a success.

While this was an occasion to rejoice at what had been achieved, there was also a feeling of sadness and disappointment that we had not been able to procure ‘Area D’ to protect the visual approach the entrance to the Park. In spite of the $5 million and $2 million which the North Shore City Council and the Auckland Regional Council had respectively pledged, this land had become just too expensive for us to raise the balance of funds needed. We took heart that the Heritage Protection Area had been acquired for us and our future generations to enjoy. This was only made possible by the success the Society had had in Court in ensuring that this land could not be developed, thus reducing its monetary value.

The earthworks at Long Bay

Work has been proceeding apace on Stage I of the Long Bay development site on the south face of the Awaruku Ridge.

Following completion of the earthworks in the wetland described in our last report, construction has been proceeding on construction of the sheer keys in the lower reaches of the three gullies running down the south face to the stream in order to stabilize the land from future slippage. This involves excavating the soft sedimentary material down to solid strata and back filling and consolidating with solid clay excavated from the intervening ridges. Work is virtually complete on the most easterly location adjacent to the Heritage Protection Area (our ‘Area D’) which is now being top soiled and mulched to minimize erosion by run-off prior to being grassed. Work is well advanced on the second and underway in the third and largest gully at the top of the site adjacent to Long Bay College.

The earthworking season is due to terminate at the end of April with a possible one month extension, given favourable weather conditions. The whole site is required to be protected by mulching of all exposed ground and runoff controls maintained throughout the closed winter season through to the beginning of October. This will provide a welcome respite for local residents from the incessant noise and dust arising from the continuous operation of heavy earth-moving machinery.

Run-off from recent rain events

Members of the Society and general public have been seriously concerned by the suspended silt in the Awaruku Stream during and following three significant rainfall events since just prior to Christmas, and the affects this may have on the Marine Reserve. In discussion with Auckland Council officers and Todd site management , we have been told the provisions of the current regulations and resource consent conditions have been complied with and even exceeded. Unfortunately, in the first rain event a stormwater bund collapsed with heavy rain which was subsequently repaired. Since then, surveys by a Todd consultant of the sea floor adjacent to the Awaruku Stream outfall have revealed no significant siltation attributable to the stream discharge.

However, we are concerned to note the stream below the development site has remained clouded for a full month since the heaviest rainfall event, resulting from the discharge of water from the siltation ponds. We are concerned this could have a serious detrimental effect on the filter feeders such as tuatua, dosinia (large clams) in the Marine Reserve.

The Okura Environmental Group (which includes North Shore Forest and Bird and the East Coast Bays Coastal Protection Society), also a party to the Environment Court case, has been similarly concerned by the discharges into the Marine Reserve. Society members may be assured we are in dialogue with both the Council and Todds about these matters.

Following the heaviest of the recent rainfall events of 27- 28 January when 126mm was recorded, the capacity of the run-off control system was increased by deepening of the wetland lake and raising and strengthening the outfall bund to the Awaruku Stream. In the more recent but lesser rain event of 6 – 7 March when 36 mm and 29 mm of rain fell, we observed no overflow from the system though the stream was significantly muddied and has remained cloudy since. We continue to maintain a watching brief.

Bernard Stanly
Deputy Convenor

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