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Waitakere Ranges Bill to Parliament

MEDIA RELEASE (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE)

Tuesday 21 February, 2006

Waitakere Ranges Bill to Parliament

A “ground-breaking piece of social and environmental legislation”.

That is Mayor Bob Harvey’s description of The Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill which is due to have its first reading in Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday, 22 February).

The Bill has been jointly promoted by Waitakere City Council, Auckland Regional Council and Rodney District Council to secure long-term recognition, status and protection for the Waitakere Ranges, foothills and coastal villages.

The Bill recognises the national, regional and local importance of the Waitakere Ranges, their foothills and coastal areas, and promotes the protection and enhancement of its heritage features for present and future generations. While protecting the area, it also enables some 27,720 hectares of public and private land to be lived and worked in.

Mayor Harvey says the first reading in parliament tomorrow is the result of several years of community consultation- “and a vision which dates back decades.”

“The time it has taken reflects the huge importance of this issue for Waitakere City. The bill has engaged the city like no other issue. What you have in parliament now reflects a huge level of public consultation and input and the bill is better for it.”

Mayor Harvey also acknowledges the work of local MPs Lynne Pillay, Hon David Cunliffe and Hon Chris Carter who have been part of an advisory group which helped draft the Bill.

“The enactment of the bill will be an historic step in the long history of efforts to better manage and protect the Ranges. Those efforts stretch back to the late nineteenth century and include moves to create the area as a national park (prior to the establishment of the Auckland Centennial Memorial Park in 1941). This however is a 21st century approach, embracing both public and private land.

This bill defines forever the western edge of urban sprawl.”

Mayor Harvey stresses that the Bill is not designed to restrict property rights. The Bill does not replace the Resource Management Act, nor replace or “undo” district plans prepared under the RMA.

“It simply gives another layer- or filter if you like- before any further development can proceed.It does not take away or change the status of any private land (or public land). Nor does it change anybody’s property rights. If a property is being farmed today, it can continue to be farmed after the Bill is passed. If a legitimate business is being run from the property today, it can continue to be run in the future. If there are any existing rights the bill does not change these.”

Waitakere Electorate MP Lynne Pillay will sponsor the Bill through Parliament. She says: “This Bill is the culmination of so much energy, commitment and hard work of so many. It is unique in that it has had the co-operation of many diverse and interested groups-, from local and regional Councils to community groups, land-owners, iwi, recreational users and the public at large.”

Ms Pillay describes the Ranges as “iconic”. She points out that New Zealand’s entry at the international Chelsea Flower Show this year is a “Waitakere Garden”, depicting the dramatic landscapes of the Ranges and coast. “Nowhere else in the world is there such a treasure on the doorstep of the largest City in the country. This Bill will ensure that this unique environment and the values we all place on it are kept for generations to come.”

“I am privileged to be responsible for the carriage of the Bill through the House.”

The Bill establishes the ‘Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area’, which includes the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, residential areas around Titirangi, the foothills area, coastal villages such as Piha, Karekare and parts of south-west Rodney District. Some 17,000 people live in the area.

It is expected that following its first reading in Parliament, the Bill will be sent to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, which will then call for public submissions.

ENDS

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