Local Board Chair not amused
From Josephine Bartley, Chair Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board.
With the change in Local Government in Auckland in 2010 the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board is responsible for local parks and reserves in our area.
We aim to make decisions and plans for our parks and reserves based on community engagement. The Minister, Hon Dr Nick Smith, in his Supplementary Order Paper circumvents this by stating that no grazing and farming will take place on Point England Reserve, and that Auckland Council must provide sportsfields on the headland where the dotterels and other shore birds are.
As a local board we opposed the Point England Development Enabling Bill because of the lack of consultation by the government with our community and the dangerous precedent it sets of circumventing legislation that protects reserves. Again we are being stood on by government and are being told what to do in our local reserve. If this is the case, then what was the point of the Auckland super-city structure put in place by government to empower local decision making?
I have asked the Minister for a meeting to remind him of the issues with this Bill and his SOP on behalf of our local board and Tāmaki community.
It comes from after this story broke on Wednesday:
Auckland mayor Phil Goff has accused the government of trying to micro-manage his council by telling it what to do with public reserve land at Point England.
Mr Goff said he had been blindsided by an amendment to housing development legislation that would ban farming or grazing on the reserve, and require the council to build a sports field.
The bill, which allows for a housing development on 11ha of the reserve in Tamaki, east Auckland, is making its way through Parliament.
The legislation would enable the reserve land to be used to build 300 houses by local iwi Ngāti Pāoa as part of its Treaty settlement.
Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith yesterday introduced a proposed amendment stating the council must also put aside at least 8ha of the remaining land for a sports field.
It also said farming or grazing would no longer be permitted on any part of the reserve land.
Mr Goff said it was an extraordinary intrusion into council affairs.
“It’s not the minister’s role to prescribe to a council what it should or shouldn’t do on one of its own reserves.
“Down to the detail of prescribing that we shouldn’t have grazing animals and we should be putting a reserve on a headland, which is a nature reserve.”
He said the minister had made no effort to contact him about the change.
“It is courtesy and it is normal that the council and the public be consulted.”
Mr Goff said he had written to Dr Smith asking for an explanation and outlining his opposition to the amendment.
Dr Smith told Morning Report the intention was to make sure the new houses displaced areas where cows were grazed, and didn’t compromise land available for public amenities.
“Why is it that Mayor Goff and [Labour building and construction spokesperson] Phil Twyford don’t want to give the public the reassurance that the playing field area will be retained and that we will not continue to graze cows in the centre of Auckland when we have such high housing needs?”
Dr Smith said the Crown had paid for the Point England land and vested it with the council for recreation purposes. For more than 40 years, the council had decided to use 18ha of it to graze cows, he said.
“I don’t see how anybody can reasonably defend having 18 hectares of land right in the centre of Auckland grazing cows when we have got such high needs for playing fields and for homes, and that is effectively what the government is wanting to achieve.”
I still do not believe in the Bill as a whole. Yes the land goes back to Iwi as a Treaty Settlement but the current underlying zone as informal Recreation per the Unitary Plan would stand. A Private Plan Change which would also trigger revocation of reserve status under the Reserves Act can then be filed if housing is to be placed on the land. And yes Council does have reserves vested to them from private owners.