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Waitakere Ranges Bill now in Parliament

Waitakere Ranges Bill now in Parliament

23 February 2006

The ARC is today applauding the referral of the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill to the Local Government and Environment select committee, following the first reading in Parliament yesterday.

Chair of the ARC's Regional Strategy and Planning Committee, and representative for Waitakere, Cr Paul Walbran says that after decades of debating the merits of new legislation to recognise and protect the ranges, and years of consulting extensively with the local and regional community, to have the Bill now part of the Parliamentary process is a significant milestone.

"To finally have the Bill officially part of the Parliamentary process is something that all Aucklanders can be proud of.

"The Ranges, which provide a background to urban Auckland, are one of the most defining geographical features of the region, and this Bill will help ensure that they, inclusive of the foothills and coastal villages which are also covered by the Heritage Area created by the Bill, are protected for future generations to enjoy.

"The closeness of the Waitakeres to New Zealand's largest urban area contributes to both their unique value and the risk posed to them. They are under intense development pressures of a rapidly growing metropolitan area."
More than 17,000 hectares of the proposed Heritage Area is the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. Chair of the ARC's Parks and Heritage Committee, Cr Sandra Coney says that while the park is publicly owned, the Bill will provide greater protection for the park.

"Development in and around the park is the principle source of weed and animal pests that threaten native birds and the forest, and is seen as the biggest threat to the ecological health of the park. The Bill will strengthen the ability for us to protect the park, and will provide more certainty that ecological and landscape protection will stay on council agendas in years to come," she says.

Cr Walbran says that the ARC has consistently been a strong supporter of the concept of a Bill for a number of years now, and believes that it is the only way to secure long-term recognition, status and protection for the Waitakere Ranges and foothills.

"This Bill is an opportunity for us to draw a line and provide certainty for the area.

"Having the Bill now part of the Parliamentary process means that it can be debated in the most appropriate forum. To falter at this stage could remove protection of the ranges from the political agenda for decades, by which stage it will be far too late."
The Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill has been jointly drafted and promoted by the ARC, Waitakere City Council and Rodney District Council. Its introduction to Parliament is sponsored by Waitakere MP, Lynne Pillay.
Cr Walbran and Cr Coney, along with ARC Deputy Chair and representative for Rodney, Cr Christine Rose, have been part of the advisory group which has overseen the drafting of the Bill.

About the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill

The Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill is a local bill that aims to secure long-term recognition, status and protection for the Waitakere Ranges. The Bill establishes the 'Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area', which includes the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, the foothills area, coastal villages such as Piha, Karekare and parts of south-west Rodney district.

The Bill states the national significance of the Heritage Area and defines its heritage features, specifies the objectives of establishing and maintaining the Heritage Area and provides mechanisms for more certain and effective planning, resource management and decision making, in relation to the Heritage Area.

The Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area covers more than 27,000 hectares and includes the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, and approximately 8000 hectares of privately owned land.

ENDS

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