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Auckland Council to Hear Opposition to Controversial SHA

Auckland Council to Hear Community Opposition to Controversial SHA, Despite Lack of a Democratic Process

Resource Consent hearing for the controversial Ihumatao SHA62 is heard next week 3-5 Feb 2016, Manukau Meeting room, L1, Civic Annex Building, 31-33 Manukau Station Road, Auckland. Concerned community group SOUL is organising a public rally from 9-10am, 3 Feb 2016 at the commencement of the hearing.

The application from Fletcher Residential regarding the plan variation, rezoning and consent is to be heard on 3 Feb. On 4 Feb from 9.30am, SOUL is presenting evidence by mana whenua, community members, and unpaid geologists, archaeologists, environmental and heritage consultants to refute Fletcher’s claims that this development creates little harm.

Passed into law by this National Government under urgency with the stated aim to expedite housing supply, Special Housing Areas (SHAs) do not conform to the Resource Management Act (RMA), nor do they acknowledge or abide to the partnership mandated by the Treaty of Waitangi. SHAs have very limited notification – democracy is curtailed. SOUL says their rally is the only chance for the community opposition to be heard by Council, and expect a big turnout.

Council consents and the re-zoning are required by Fletcher to complete the purchase of this 33ha coastal farm at Ihumatao. The Overseas Investment Office has identified troubling inconsistencies with Fletcher’s conditional purchase of the land, namely that it was not advertised for sale to New Zealand buyers first, as required by law.

This farm is unfairly confiscated (Raupatu) Maori ancestral land. It contains known urupa/burial caves and unknown buried archaeological sites, sacred volcanic cones, the wahi tapu freshwater springs, and many more taonga of the local people who have cared for this whenua for over 20 generations. SOUL wants to protect this land for public use.

Ihumatao pa village of 90 homes will be dwarfed, and the community destroyed by a 480- house development in the adjoining fields, says SOUL. Ihumatao village is known and respected as the longest continuously occupied papakainga/village in Auckland. The people have lived and worked at Ihumatao for over 1000 years. Carbon dating on Puketutu Island dates human settlement by the people of Ihumatao in the range of 1160 A.D. The unspoilt land surrounding the Reserve contains a thousand years of Maori and European agricultural heritage.

SOUL spokesman Brendan Corbett says, “a housing development at Ihumatao within the last remnants of rural Mangere does not match the criteria of the SHA legislation as it seriously lacks infrastructure and amenities.”

Mr Corbett’s submission to the hearing focuses on comparing the proposed development SHA 62 with other SHAs. At Ihumatao, Fletcher Residential is applying to build 480 dwellings on 32 hectares of land (a density of 15/ha, low-density housing). As a comparison, SHA59 on nearby Walmsley Rd, Mangere is yielding 1500 dwellings from 15 hectares (100/ha, high- density). SOUL has discovered that the only SHA approved in NZ, as a low-density development, is SHA 62. Mr Corbett contends, “this development should not have been allowed to progress to a consent hearing,” as it does not meet the SHA mandate of increasing housing supply on uncontroversial sites with ready access to infrastructure.

Mr Corbett has identified a viable, alternative SHA site at the 33.5 hectares of Council-owned Watercare land along Ascot Road, Airport Oaks. SOUL has been engaged in meaningful dialogue with Watercare. Mr Corbett says, “The Watercare site is the same size, but might allow for greater housing density, is closer to jobs, services and shops and would cause none of the issues that have been raised with the Ihumatao SHA62 proposal.”

SOUL wants to keep the Otuataua Stonefields area a peaceful, public place for all to enjoy, and to protect its history and wild nature for future generations. SOUL ally, Dr Michelle Mills, an environmental and heritage consultant, has submitted, “I have grave concerns for the long term and cumulative impacts that this proposed development will have on the natural and cultural environment, and I urge the panel to assess this application with the attention it deserves.” Dr Mills concluded her submission with questions for the panel, “Would you be concerned if this development was being constructed on land you hold as significant to your ancestry and identity? Would you be comfortable approving a development that has blatantly ignored the principles and legislative requirements of the Treaty of Waitangi?”

ENDS

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