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Commitment to enhance Onehunga foreshore

5 August 2008

Council reaffirms commitment to enhance Onehunga foreshore

In a public plan hearing on 6 August, Auckland City Council will consider the New Zealand Transport Agency's outline plan of works on the Onehunga highway widening project, which is due to start this year.

The project is key to facilitating the second bridge across the Manukau in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but concerns have been raised on the effect the project will have on the already degraded Onehunga foreshore.

"Over the past decades, the construction of roads and utilities has had an adverse effect on the natural environment of the foreshore," said Councillor Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, chairperson of the council's City Development Committee.

"One of the unique aspects of Auckland is its two fantastic harbours. The council is committed to promoting and enhancing the Manukau foreshore with the same vigour as it does the Waitemata."

To rectify some of these effects, the council is focusing on working with the New Zealand Transport Agency to develop a plan for the Onehunga foreshore in order to improve public access, and boost the environmental and ecological values of the foreshore.

"We are taking the future of the Onehunga foreshore very seriously. This area is an integral slice of Auckland's natural heritage and we believe that preserving our foreshore is essential. We have been working collaboratively with other agencies to find a suitable solution to the competing needs of future-proofed transport infrastructure and an attractive, usable foreshore."

"We have kept in constant contact with the New Zealand Transport Agency (formerly Transit), as well as working closely with the Onehunga enhancement society," says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

"We have also taken the proactive step of allocating funding in our annual plan to create a master plan for the Onehunga foreshore area. We have taken the lead in talking closely with the Auckland Regional Council, with a request for them to match the funding the Auckland City Council will provide."

"There have been a number of interventions in the harbour, including the motorway, and while we accept there has to be an improved motorway, we are being presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver infrastructure without compromising the foreshore and public access to it. We need to ask the government to sufficiently fund the New Zealand Transport Agency so they are able to proceed with care and respect for the area.

"We need to ensure the Onehunga to Avondale rail connection which is under development does not compromise the lagoon. I would like the New Zealand Transport Agency to look at the viability of shifting the motorway westward, which would still future-proof the road for utilities and transport, such as rail corridors. This would require the government to fund the project beyond current levels.

"We have been extremely proactive in pushing for the need to future proof the harbour and in committing our own funds to the project. We now need to enlist the cooperation of the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Auckland Regional Council. For us to come up with a workable solution that will succeed, we need cooperation between all parties."

The council has limited influence in the outcome of the outline plan enquiry. The New Zealand Transport Agency will decide whether to accept any changes recommended by the council.

ENDS

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