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Hunt: Protection For Waitakere Not Certain Yet

“Every justification in pushing ahead,” says ‘Father of the House’

While a Local Government Act to give permanent protection to the whole of the Waitakere Ranges is closer than it has been in the 39 years since he joined Parliament, it is not a certainty yet, said the Rt. Hon. Jonathan Hunt, speaking last night at the 31st Annual General Meeting of the Society he helped found in 1974.

The four independent opinion polls conducted over the last year show there is “every justification for pushing ahead with what is in the best interest of everyone in this area,” said Mr Hunt, explaining the main reason he supports legislation is it would require another Act of Parliament to allow an attack on the Ranges, “so no quiet little deals can be done under the carpet. That’s why it is the safest way to preserve decisions made.”

First involved in efforts to give the Waitakere Ranges better protection back in 1973, when he sponsored a Protection Bill which fell at the first hurdle, having failed to win Local Authority Support, Mr Hunt has been a long term advocate for the Ranges. He urged the well-attended meeting “constant vigilance” would be needed to first get the proposed Bill to Parliament and then ensure its safe passage through the complex and detailed select committee process. “It will not and can not be hurried through Parliament”, said Mr Hunt. “It can’t be done under urgency if it is a Local Government Bill.” And the Select Committee process was the best way to fine tune the wording of the Bill, he advised, to make sure it delivers to the principles captured in the version the Council introduce to Parliament.

Mr Hunt outlined for the meeting the process the Bill would take through Parliament to become an Act and acknowledged the work of local MPs Lynne Pillay, David Cunliffe, and Chris Carter in supporting the project so far.

The Annual General Meeting of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society was held at 7pm on Sunday 20th March at the Arataki Visitor Centre. It was attended by members and friends of the Society including the MP for Waitakere, Lynne Pillay, ARC Councillor Sandra Coney, Mayor of Waitakere City Bob Harvey and Monique Davis of the Waitakere Community Board.

The Rt. Hon. Jonathan Hunt is a foundation member and Patron of the Society, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and New Zealand's next Ambassador to London. He has been a long term resident of Karekare and was elected Labour Party MP for New Lynn in 1966. The Waitakere Ranges Protection Society is a community-based organisation with a membership of over 600 individuals and families. It is an incorporated society.
It has been in existence since 1973 and in that time has campaigned for the preservation and restoration of the Ranges through direct action in restoration planting, weed control, through interventions on both planning matters and on public works which threatened the integrity of the area. Achievements include initiating and helping secure major additions to Waitakere parkland, such as the Pae O Te Rangi, Pauroa and Lake Wainamu reserves, defending large areas of bushland from subdivision, preventing three rubbish dumps in the Ranges, helping restore the Historic Winchelsea House at Karekare, commissioning numerous ecological studies of the Ranges and obtaining protection for the Ranges through improved zoning. The Society’s Patrons are Dr John Morton, Professor Richard Bellamy and the Rt Hon. Jonathan Hunt. http://www.waitagereranges.org.nz

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