Auckland Unitary Plan - Bad news for heritage
Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan and Ihumātao: Bad news for the people of Ihumātao and the wider community.
The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan implicitly endorses the 500-unit housing project on the archeologically-rich farmland at Ihumātao that was unjustly confiscated from Māori in the 1860s.
Worse than that, the Plan contains further attacks on the community of Ihumātao and the vision of the wider South Auckland community who see the land at Ihumātao as a potential “Cornwall Park on the Manukau”, under the mana of the descendants of those whose land was confiscated.
Under the Plan, the Council-owned land (the “Rennie block”) next to the proposed Fletcher SHA62 Housing Development would be re-zoned in a way that would make it vulnerable to a Fletcher buy-up. This land was bought by the Council as the site of a future visitors’ centre, a much-needed amenity for the Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve.
It seems now that plan has been abandoned, along with other aspects of the Māngere Gateway. This was a vision of the Māngere Peninsula which would have highlighted the rich history of the area, the home of the oldest Māori community in Auckland. Instead, the Plan endorses a depressing prospect of this ancestral landscape being almost entirely covered by industrial developments and housing that will be unaffordable for most Aucklanders.
Farrell Cleary asserts that “it is not too late to save some of the land.” The SOUL Spokesperson says “land between Oruarangi Road and the Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve can be saved as part of the Stonefields Reserve if the Council acts now in the public interest, and resists pressure from speculative developers, both home-grown and multi-national.”
SOUL have found sound alternatives to the problematic SHA62 Fletcher housing development at Ihumātao. In 2015, SOUL proposed to the Council that instead of endorsing the destruction of what archaeologist Dave Veart has compared to “the field next to Stonehenge”, the Council could allow housing on the green space owned by Watercare near Ascot Road, south of Māngere Mountain. Watercare solemnly declared this was impossible, since the land was part of an ‘odour buffer zone.’ This seemed odd at the time, since there is other housing closer to the Watercare Sewage Treatment Plant. Now though, we can see the real reason for the refusal to contemplate housing on that land: under the proposed Plan, the supposedly inviolable ‘buffer zone’ would be zoned industrial and could be sold off for a pretty sum by Council–owned Watercare.
Cleary concludes that “these aspects of the Plan should be speedily addressed by the elected Council, who can show that they do work in the interests of the people who elected them.”
Over the last year, community action group Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) have been working to protect significant heritage land for future generations. SOUL wants to protect Ihumātao, including the proposed SHA site, and adjacent Rennie Block as an integral part of the internationally significant Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve, for the enjoyment of all people.