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Aucklands parks threatened by Super City carve up

ARC’s northern parks threatened by Super City carve up

26 August 2009

Rumoured changes to the Auckland region’s northern boundary pose a threat to nine northern regional parks.

“We currently don’t know the future of all the regional parks from Wenderholm north, and possibly as far west as Te Rau Puriri on the Kaipara coast, and Muriwai,” says Cr Sandra Coney, Chair of the ARC’s Parks and Heritage Committee.

“These regional parks were bought by the people of the Auckland region for the people of the Auckland region.

“Now Aucklanders would have to enter Northland to visit their own parks,” says Coney.

“It is particularly grim that we could be stripped of our first regional park, Wenderholm, which was purchased by the Auckland Regional Authority in 1965. Our forerunner body started the inspired policy of purchasing northern parks to accommodate the burgeoning population of Auckland, soon after the Harbour Bridge was built.

“The regional bodies have acted to save parts of the magnificent northern coasts from development. Since then, Pakiri, Tawharanui, Mahurangi, Scandrett, Te Arai, Atiu Creek and Te Rau Puriri have been added,” she says, “and the northern parks now cover approximately 70 kilometres of coast.”

Three recent purchases – Pakiri, Te Arai and Te Rau Puriri - cost Auckland regional ratepayers $30 million.

“Even if the Auckland council is allowed to keep the parks, we would end up in a perverse situation where Auckland ratepayers fund the cost of recent northern purchases and managing these parks to the tune of about $8.6 million a year, while people on the doorstep – a third of all visitors to northern parks – pay nothing.”

Auckland ratepayers would also have to replace the rates that northern Rodney ratepayers currently contribute to regional parks.

If the Government were to decide to give the northern parks to Kaipara District Council or Northland Regional Council, there is no way they have the resources to manage these parks, says Cr Coney. “This would amount to theft from Aucklanders”.

Deputy chair of the Parks and Heritage Committee and Rodney representative Cr Christine Rose says a boundary change that takes no account of the partnerships associated with parks risks undermining the goodwill of park volunteers and partner groups.

“Residents from across Rodney and the greater Auckland region are extremely attached to these parks. As well as contributing rates money, they have helped fundraise, organised events, pulled weeds, planted trees, monitored bait stations and collected rubbish.

“Community contributions have helped make these precious and popular places what they are today. It is nonsensical and offensive to think that they can be divided up and given to another community and council altogether, without any consultation and any thought given to the effect this will have on the parks themselves, or on regular park visitors and supporters,” she says.

ENDS

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