Southern Environmental Association Protest
23 October 2005
On Labour Day, 24 October 2005, from 2.15 to 4 p.m., a public Protest will be held at the gateway to the new coastal reserve at the end of Owhiro Bay Parade in Owhiro Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.
The Protest is to express community opposition to the recent controversial plan of Wellington City Council to sell off part of the publicly owned coastal land to private developers for housing development.
The Protest will also demand that Wellington City Council agree to full public consultation over decisions on the future of visitor facilities at the gateway to the new reserve. The Council recently refused community requests for such consultation.
The area is the former Owhiro Bay Quarry site. A coalition of environmental and residents' organisations (led by the Southern Environmental Association) battled the City Council and a multinational quarry company in the 1990s to stop the quarrying and create a new coastal reserve at the site. Community leaders were shocked when the City Council rushed through a decision to sell part of the site to private developers at the end of September, and have vowed to fight the decision until it is reversed.
"Our message is simple. The community fought for this precious coastal land, and the community owns it. City Councillors are our trustees, and the land is not their private property to play around with. Councillors have no moral authority to hand any of this community-owned coastal land over to private developers", says June Epsom, Chair of the Southern Environmental Association.
"This whole area must be retained as a wonderful reserve for the future of Wellington. The community wants a public park, not millionaire mansions, at the gateway to the South Coast reserve," says June Epsom.
"The Councillors who steamrollered the decision to privatise this important coastal land need to reconsider this matter. The arguments which were put forward for privatising the land don't stand up to analysis", says Robert Logan, the president of the 450-strong Island Bay Residents' Association, which is also fighting the sale decision. "Labour Day will be only the start of the public fight to save this land from sale," he says.
Members of the news media will be welcome at the Protest.
The Protest will be combined with an Open Afternoon for a number of members of the community who are intending to present ideas for the gateway to the new reserve, in the hope that the Council will decide to consult the public on preferred options for the gateway to the reserve.