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Significant volcanic feature secure for public use

Significant volcanic feature secured for public use

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Media Release – EMBARGOED To 5am Tuesday 3 July, 2007

Significant volcanic feature secured for public use

One of the most pristine and undeveloped explosion craters remaining in the Auckland volcanic field has been secured for a public reserve by Manukau City Council, through a $6.07millon purchase announced today (Tuesday 3 July, 2007).

Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says he is delighted the council has approved the purchase of the Pukaki Lagoon explosion crater located off Pukaki Road in Mangere. He believes the park will become one of Manukau’s most significant public open spaces.

The council has purchased 25ha of privately owned land around the crater rim plus the leasehold interest in perpetuity over 36ha of flat land inside the crater. The purchase was funded from the Cash-in-Lieu of Reserves Account, which contains financial contributions paid to the council in lieu of the provision of land for reserve purposes on private sector subdivisions. Money from this account can only be spent on the acquisition of land for public open space, for active or passive recreation, and the development of such land for these purposes.

“The Pukaki Lagoon explosion crater was identified by council as having the highest priority for acquisition for reserve of any land in the city,” Sir Barry says. “This purchase will allow the creation of a premier park – significant for its natural and cultural heritage plus landscape and recreational values – for all the people of Manukau. This was one of the only opportunities for a largely unmodified volcanic explosion crater to come into council ownership.”

Sir Barry says Bayleys Manukau, the real estate agency that marketed the property, reported that the tender attracted strong interest from a variety of parties including developers who could potentially have subdivided the property into lifestyle blocks.

The interior of the explosion crater was once a tidal lagoon but, some 85 years ago, was drained and converted to pasture. Ownership of the lagoon passed to the Auckland Harbour Board under the 1911 Manukau Harbour Control Act, despite Maori protest at the time. Later the freehold title over the lagoon was transferred to Manukau City Council which, in the 1990s, returned the lagoon to the Pukaki Maori Marae Committee as part of the council’s acknowledgement of the decision by the Waitangi Tribunal on the Manukau claim.

However, while the council was able to return the freehold title of the land to local Pukaki Maori, the perpetually renewable lease over the lagoon land remained in private ownership until the council’s purchase announced today.

Sir Barry says it is proposed to negotiate co-management for the reserve with the Pukaki Marae Committee, as owners of the freehold title to the lagoon.

Committee spokesperson Maahia Takaanini-Wilson said Te Akitai Waiohua was delighted with the news of the purchase of the Pukaki lands and lease, which were the site of an ancestral pa. “Not only does the purchase continue the council’s acknowledgement of the 1985 Waitangi Tribunal decision on the Manukau Claim, it recognises again the perseverance and commitment of tangata whenua, Te Akitai Waiohua and Tainui, to protecting historic sites.”

Te Pukaki Tapu o Poutukeka (the sacred well spring of Poutukeka) is the name given to Pukaki Crater by tangata whenua. Poutukeka was one of the crew of the Tainui waka and the original ancestor of all 33 generations of mana whenua in this area.

For its immediate future, the council proposes to leave the park in its present state. Public access will not be immediately available because of arrangements with the vendor for continued grazing for 12 months.

“Manukau City Council has a very proud record of successful purchases of many outstanding open spaces and will continue to vigorously pursue other potential reserve acquisitions as they arise,” Sir Barry says. “Preservation of sites with significant natural, cultural and recreational values is a vital component of a young and rapidly growing city such as Manukau.”


Pukaki Crater and Lagoon - Factsheet

Geologic History
Pukaki Crater is one of Auckland’s oldest and least modified volcanic craters. It is an 80,000 to 100,000 year old circular volcanic explosion crater formed during a single burst of activity which piled up a tuff cone on top of a low flat area. The crater was subsequently breached on the seaward side by a narrow channel of the Waokauri Creek. It then became tidal and filled with mud.

Sediments from the former tidal lagoon contain volcanic ashes from the Auckland and Taupo-Rotorua area, providing the most complete record recovered of ancient climatic information and volcanic eruptions affecting the Auckland region.

Pukaki Crater and the adjacent Selfs Crater are the best preserved of a number of explosion craters in the Mangere area.

Maori History
Te Akitai o Waiohua are mana whenua of this area. Pukaki Crater and Lagoon are of immense importance to Te Akitai who are based at Pukaki Marae just south of these properties at Pukaki.

The Pukaki Crater is of great significance to iwi as one of 'Nga Tapuwae o Mataaoho - the footprints of Mataaoho the deity associated with volcanic forces. The footsteps of Mataaoho are evidenced by a series of volcanic explosion craters across the Auckland region.

Pukaki Crater is named 'Te Pukaki tapu o Poutukeka' - 'the sacred well spring of Poutukeka'. Poutukeka was one of the crew of Tainui waka and the original ancestor of all mana whenua in the area. The crater is of such significance as a result of its association with this ancestor. It also has other important associations with the Waiohua people as the site of urupa, pa and papakainga.

The land was an important settlement area for Maori prior to the arrival of Europeans. The volcanic soils were (and still are) suitable for a variety of crops, and the creeks and the Manukau Harbour provided seafood.

Lands in this vicinity were confiscated from Te Akitai in the 1860s and developed as farmland.

Agricultural Use
Land around the crater and subsequently sold to farmers. Despite protests from Pukaki Maori the ownership of the lagoon (the tidal area at the centre of the crater) was passed to the Auckland Harbour Board under the Manukau Harbour Control Act 1911. The Board then leased the lagoon to George Henning who dammed and drained the basin. A popular speedway circuit was established in 1929 in the centre of the crater.

In the late 1930s the lease of the lagoon was acquired by Chinese market gardeners. Subsequently the lease of the lagoon and the freehold interest in the surrounding Pukaki Crater was acquired by Alfred Prangley (the grandfather of the current owner) in 1944. The Prangleys farmed the crater and lagoon and subdivided some of the periphery for houses.

Waitangi Tribunal Settlement
In the 1990s ancestral marae lands, including an urupa, were returned to the Pukaki Maori Marae Committee as part of settling the Manukau Treaty of Waitangi Claim. Shortly afterwards the fee simple interest in Pukaki Lagoon was transferred from the Auckland Harbour Board via the Manukau City Council to the Pukaki Maori Marae Committee. The lessee’s interest in the lagoon was not transferred to iwi at this time and remained with the Prangleys.

The acquisition of the crater and the leasehold interest in the lagoon by council as reserve is a continuation of council’s commitment to implement the findings of the Manukau Claim.

Environment Court Case
This site was part of an Environment Court case in 2001/2002 relating to the zoning of the crater and surrounding land. In that case the council was unsuccessful in defending the proposed Mangere-Puhinui Heritage zone and the zoning of the crater outskirts was changed to Rural 3, which permits rural residential development (lot size down to 5,000m²) around the outskirts of the crater. This zoning would enable the development of approximately 25 houses on the outskirts of the crater. From a planning perspective this zoning does not protect the crater from encroaching development, and some of the environmental, landscape, heritage, cultural or recreational values would be lost if such development were to occur.

Use as Reserve
The council has just acquired 60.2 hectares, consisting of 23.6 hectares around the crater and the leasehold interest in 36.6 hectares in the lagoon (the freehold interest of the lagoon remains with the Pukaki Maori Marae Committee).

The acquisition of the crater and lagoon as reserve will enable the creation of a premier park containing estuary coastline and dramatic volcanic landforms as well as significant natural and cultural heritage values.

It is proposed to negotiate co-management for the reserve with the Pukaki Marae Committee. For its immediate future, the council proposes to leave the park in its present state with the vendor continuing to graze the land for another 12 months, while council plans for the future development of the park.


Pukaki Crater Location Diagram (PDF)
Pukaki Crater Aerial Photo showing purchase boundaries (PDF)

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