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Parks fund raiser here to help

Parks fund raiser here to help

An internationally recognised fund raiser has been brought to New Zealand to help the community find the money to create more local parks.

Californian Ralph Benson of the Trust for Public Land has been successful in his home state and across the USA at raising money for the acquisition and protection of significant pieces of land, and local groups now want to learn from his experiences.

The Long Bay-Okura Great Park Society is hosting Mr Benson's visit, and North Shore City Council has contributed to his airfares. The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and 3M New Zealand Ltd are also parties to his trip.

Mr Benson arrived on Tuesday (May 27) and was officially welcomed to North Shore City with a powhiri. He then took a guided walk over part of the 110ha Long Bay Regional Park, which is owned and administered by the ARC, and the adjacent 38.5ha addition acquired by the North Shore City Council for $22.5m late last year after a tortuous negotiation period.

The city's community services and parks committee chairperson, Margaret Miles, says the Great Park Society played an important role in the acquisition process, and all parties are keen to maintain the impetus of park acquisition to prevent significant pieces of land from being developed for housing.

"With land values in North Shore City rising at a dizzy pace, and so many competing priorities, it's becoming harder to find the money for park acquisitions. Yet we need to ensure we have plenty of green space to meet the growing needs of our community. And we need to look at all the options as to how to do that," Councillor Miles says.

Mr Benson will today (Wednesday) take a flight over Long Bay and the coast, he will meet North Shore City councillors and staff on Thursday, the ARC on Friday, and there will be a public meeting and forum from 10am to 1pm at? on Saturday, May 31. He will then spend three days in Wellington before returning to Auckland for further meetings with ARC, North Shore City and local MPs.

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