School up the creek

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Lisa Sloan

WHEN is a creek not a creek?

That’s the ques­tion puz­zling chil­dren and staff from Te Kura Kau­papa Maori O Nga Maun­garongo af­ter plans to build a block of Hous­ing New Zealand units next to their school.

If the de­vel­op­ment goes ahead, a sec­tion of Meola Creek will be moved to make way for a road and carpark.

The Haver­stock Rd school in San­dring­ham is close to Meola Creek and 19 state houses.

Hous­ing NZ wants to re­move the homes and re­place them with a 40-unit de­vel­op­ment.

The sec­tion of Meola Creek bor­der­ing the site is piped un­der­ground, but there is still wa­ter on the creek bed.

The school ob­jects be­cause the creek has his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance to the area and the chil­dren iden­tify with it.

Prin­ci­pal Dianne Po­mare says as long as wa­ter can be seen, it is still a creek and should be treated that way.

“There’s no ad­van­tage to us in any of this,” she says.

“This used to be a peace­ful, run­ning stream and peo­ple would get puha and wa­ter­cress from it, but now Hous­ing New Zealand and the Auck­land Re­gional Coun­cil is declar­ing it’s noth­ing.”

The school ar­gued its case at a re­source con­sent hear­ing on the is­sue last week.

Ms Po­mare says the pro- posed de­vel­op­ment will put too much pres­sure on Haver­stock Rd.

She is wor­ried it will cause park­ing and traf­fic prob­lems.

Ms Po­mare is also con­cerned the noise and dust from the de­vel­op­ment will dis­rupt the chil­dren.

“It’s go­ing to be 18 months of noise, dust, bang­ing trucks and road­blocks.”

But re­gional coun­cil stormwa­ter and sed­i­ment man­ager Roger Ban­nis­ter says be­cause the creek is piped un­der­ground, it is not classified as a wa­ter­way.

“In the area of the Haver­stock Rd de­vel­op­ment, Meola Creek doesn’t ex­ist,” he says.

Mr Ban­nis­ter says the only time the creek bed would have wa­ter in it is af­ter sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall, so mov­ing it is a per­mit­ted ac­tiv­ity.

Hous­ing NZ act­ing re­gional man­ager for cen­tral Auck­land Walid Ahmed says the Haver­stock Rd site is con­sid­ered ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause it is close to shops and pub­lic trans­port.

He says Hous­ing NZ has met with the school on sev­eral oc­ca­sions and will take their con­cerns into con­sid­er­a­tion.

If the project pro­ceeds, steps will be taken to min­imise dis­rup­tion to the school and its pupils, he says.

A de­ci­sion on the re­source con­sent is ex­pected within a few weeks.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Unim­pressed: Chil­dren from Te Kura Kau­papa Maori O Nga Maun­garongo do not want to see their creek bed moved to make way for a Hous­ing New Zealand de­vel­op­ment. From left: Ron­gopai Brady, Rik­i­hana Tapi­ata, Lucy Cul­leton, Tiana Carter-Stil, Sa­mara Stil and prin­ci­pal Dianne Po­mare.

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