Surely the results could have been tabled at a regular WLB meeting. Maybe the reason for using Ostend Hall is that the Board is anticipating a huge crowd given the interest in the subject. Well no, because the first thing we learn from the survey is that there is very little interest in the subject at all. In fact only around 20% of 8703 surveys posted out were returned.
What did we know already before the survey was undertaken? We knew two things. Firstly we knew most people are in favour of having more marine reserves in the Hauraki Gulf because both the first and second WLBs were told so during their very expensive and extensive consultations with the public to form their Local Board Plans. Secondly we knew there was considerable opposition to putting a marine reserve around the northern residential beaches because a nearly 3000 strong petition told us so.
What does the $40,000 ($30k later topped up with another $10k) survey tell us? It tells us there is strong support for a having marine reserves in the Hauraki Gulf and that less than 10% support a reserve along the northern residential beaches. In other words the WLB has spent $40,000 of our money to give them blinding glimpses of the obvious (BGOs). I think is fair and safe to say the survey has been a monumental waste of ratepayers money.
The only mild surprises the survey did turn up were the distinct lack of interest in the subject for 80% of the population and that a third of the population don’t want any marine reserves at all.
It is also obvious from the wording of the Colmar Brunton report that they didn’t understand the role of the Waiheke Local Board in this whole subject. The preamble to the report states:
"The WLB are proposing to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas in the Hauraki Gulf including the sea connecting the islands in the WLB area.”
Ooops. Maybe they were misled by the egotistical desires of the WLB Chair and Deputy (Walden and Treadwell) who were responsible for overseeing the report and approving the questions, because the WLB does not have the delegated authority to establish a network of reserves. That lies with Dept. of Conservation after Auckland Council has developed its Marine Spatial Plan. The only role of the WLB is to ‘advocate’ for such a network. There is a world of difference between having the ability to do something as opposed to merely having a say.
As I have said previously:
“This is exactly the sort of waste of ratepayers’ money rampant throughout Auckland Council. Waiheke Local Board is the worst example of financial mismanagement amongst all the local boards. It’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black when Board Member Meeuwsen calls Auckland Council profligate given this Board’s appalling financial mismanagement. Meeuwsen wants Waiheke to 'go it alone'. Imagine the waste.”
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