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Pressure Mounting to Save Whareroa Farm

20.5.2005

Pressure Mounting to Save Whareroa Farm

A high-powered group of environmentalists, local politicians and residents on the Kapiti Coast have launched a ‘Guardians of Whareroa’ movement to save Whareroa Farm, just north of Paekakariki.

The group includes representatives of the Paekakariki Community Board, Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park, Open Space Gateway Group, Nga Uruora, Kapiti Environmental Association and a number of concerned individuals.

Guardians Convenor, Jenny Rowan says the group wants the Government to put pressure on Landcorp to restore the 430-hectare block to full public ownership and abandon plans to sell the land to private developers.

Members of the group, accompanied by the two local MP’s, Winnie Laban and Darren Hughes, and Mayor Alan Milne of Kapiti District have already met with State Owned Enterprises Minister Paul Swain. The Guardians are now seeking an urgent meeting on the farm site with the Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter.

Earlier this year, the Kapiti Coast District Council voted as a first option, to seek the return of the land to public ownership. The Wellington Regional council is supporting the move and says it is willing to manage the block in conjunction with Queen Elizabeth Park.

The land at Whareroa Farm and Queen Elizabeth Park was originally bought by the Crown with the idea of protecting it from housing development. In 1982, the Lands and Survey Department developed a Queen Elizabeth Park Management Plan, which allowed for both areas (the farm and the QE Park area) to be used for recreation. The Department continued to operate a sheep unit on Whareroa Farm, with funds being provided to help run Queen Elizabeth Park until 1987.

“Whareroa Farm forms a unique ‘Gateway’ to the whole Kapiti Coast – and is also a key link in Kapiti’s last remaining ecological corridor from the foothills to the sea,” says Jenny Rowan. She points out that a farm park was developed in the 1980’s with many recreational facilities, which attracted large numbers of visitors from throughout the Wellington Region.

“All of this was purposely allowed to decay when Landcorp actively discouraged visitors in the 1990’s. Landcorp allowed the farm to run down at the same time,” she says. “Now the land is under threat of sale – and all because of political theories which allowed public land to be alienated in the 1980’s.”

Jenny Rowan says Whareroa Farm has always been recognised as an important link for walking and cycling access from the coast and Queen Elizabeth Park up into the Akatarawa Hills. She emphasises the importance of the Farm in providing gentle access to outdoor activities for those who are less fit or who are disabled

“Whareroa Farm is also the primary water catchment area for Queen Elizabeth Park - and is the only water system in the Kapiti Coast District, which flows from the headwaters to the sea without passing through a residential area, she says.

“We believe any residential buildings will ruin the open space experience of the farm and the Park. Visitor numbers to Queen Elizabeth Park are expected to double over the next decade, which means Whareroa Farm will be needed more than ever as part of the park system.” she says.

ENDS


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