My responses are in red.
There are stunning streams and wetlands at the back of the park that are a joy to behold. It is a recognized site of ecological significance with all kinds of native flora and fauna including Tui, Kereru, Pukeko, duck, fish, eels and a complete wetland system that starts with springs on the hillsides that traverse gorgeous wetland habitat before flowing into Putiki Bay.
The Rangihoua SES site does not extend far into the Golf Course and will not be included in the lease areas. The vast majority of the wetland system within the Golf Course area does not have this, or any level of protection; is highly degraded and needs weed control and re-vegetation to restore it to a functioning system that will support wildlife.
It is also a historic site that once housed a thriving Maori community.
Ngati Paoa, who are tangata whenua, do not regard this area of the park to be historically significant and did not make a submission to the hearing. That Ngati Paoa have no objection to the Golf Club lease formed part of the written evidence given at the hearings. Ngati Paoa do have a co-management agreement with Council for part of the Rangihoua maunga where there are historically important sites.
One thought though; we should meet before we are locked out of the park forever. You see Mark, even though the community own the park, 4/5 of the Local Board have voted to exclude the public from most of the park for the next fifteen years. This is so that one potential leaseholder can double the size of their tenure.
The Waiheke Local Board has NOT voted to exclude the public from 'most' of the park. The opposite is correct. For the first time in many years, the public will have identified access around the perimeter of the Golf Course and be able to enjoy the scenic views of this area. This is, in addition to the many tracks and cycle paths already within the park. In a bid to get this perimeter track up and running as soon as possible, the Board has already allocated money to some weed control and clearing works. The Leases Hearings Panel has granted leases to the Golf Club, Historical Museum and Riding Club and a licence to occupy to the Westpac Helicopter Trust. This is in accord with the wishes of over 90% of the submitters to the Hearings Panel and follows the wishes of the community for over 20 years. The Clubs all have an open membership and all members of the community have the opportunity to take part in their activities. It is not unusual for there to be community leases on Council park land.
It is a public park, the last vacant recreation reserve land on the eastern end of the island.
This is a Recreation Reserve under the Reserves Act and designed to encourage all manner of recreational uses for the community. Over a period of 20 years and extensive community engagement the community has said it wants an 18 hole golf course.
The leaseholder has mostly men as members, no children, and they want to exclude everybody else except their 250 members and their spectators. The local board decided that spectators will be safe but the public might not be. This was one of several things which struck me as strange.
The Local Board made no such decision. Public access is being provided around the outside perimeter of the golf club lease area. Where this track runs into a wetland that will be upgraded, it diverts into the back of the sports park and then re-enters the golf club area further along.
Sadly, when the leaseholder’s fifteen-year lease is over we will still not be able to enjoy all of the wetlands and wildlife that are there now. The council never explained what was going to happen in their public notice but it is apparent from the Lease Hearing Panel’s report that there is much more to this than meets the eye. The Local Board also know what will happen and that is that parts of this site of ecological significance will be buried under thousands of cubic meters of commercial landfill.
All SES and other unprotected wetland and potential wetland sites within the Golf Course and Historical Society areas have been removed from their leases. The Local Board has already funded a Rangihoua Wetland Restoration Plan for the area. This work is being expanded to include some highly degraded areas, which have long since ceased to function as wetlands. These will take a lot of work to remediate but the Board is working with Councils’ ecology officers to make this happen. These areas will now come back under Council management. This is a significant project, which will be funded by the Board. Considerable funding has already been allocated and the project will require at least 5 years investment from ratepayers.
Rangihoua is nationally important as wetlands are in such decline. The legacy for the community will be wetland areas where birds and other wildlife can flourish.
The leaseholder will be operating the landfill so that they can profit hundreds of thousand dollars.
Any money received for clean-fill that goes onto the Golf Course for course construction (and it is possible that this will not be required) would go to Council, as the land owner, not the leaseholder. Clean-fill is clay and soil. Landfill is the term used for rubbish. No landfill would be permitted on Council park land.
Having a few fish, eels, ducks and squishy mud around your feet is detrimental to the leaseholder’s activity so it is a good opportunity to remove those problems as well as raising a quick profit. A win all around if you are part of the leaseholder’s club and don’t value the ecological and scenic benefits of the reserve.
Since the wetland restoration in this area will be considerable, this statement is too stupid for words.