Another anniversary at Walls Bay
Walls Bay, at Opua, was a busy place on Sunday, people coming and going from late morning to mid-afternoon to share stories and express their passionate belief that the public are being deprived of a small reserve that has long been the subject of a dispute with a commercial boatyard.
It also marked the fifth anniversary of the day (December 10, 2013) when a Walls Bay Reserve sign, erected by the Far North District Council, was stolen, for the second time.
Despite two campaigns calling for the sign’s return, and numerous requests to mayor John Carter, deputy mayor Tania McInnes, FNDC chief executive Shaun Clark and council lawyer George Swanepoel, the sign remained locked in a council shed, Maiki Marks said.
“One of the first positive things the council did when it adopted the Walls Bay management plan in 2013 was to erect the sign, below/alongside Te Araroa Trail (Opua/Paihia walkway),” she said.
After several weeks the sign was defaced and thrown into the water. The council put it back up, and installed a hidden camera, but four hours later it was gone again, Mrs Marks saying the camera had identified the person responsible who later gave it to council staff, who put it in the shed.
Five years later, she still wanted to know why the sign was not informing everyone that the land was a reserve.
The esplanade reserve management plan was created
in 1998 by community board resolution, supported by the district council, and was listed on the council’s website as the Walls Bay Opua Esplanade Reserve, along with a copy of the management plan.
A sign was erected to identify the reserve.
“Requests have been made over time for the replacement of the sign, to no avail,” Mrs
Marks said. “The latest request was met with the response that the community had not yet agreed on a name for the reserve, and this would require consultation.
“The public places bylaw is cited as authority for this.
“Without going into further detail, the response appears to be disingenuous.
“The bylaw is totally irrelevant. It is evident that the theft of the sign has been wilfully ignored, and the incident ‘forgotten’ by the council. This ‘little’ matter is just a small example of what is of much greater significance: the continued occupation of and degradation of the reserve and adjacent waters, which, like the sign, are matters relegated to ‘the shed’.
“The contamination of the reserve and foreshore is well documented. But even now, neither council (district or regional) proposes to take any steps to curtail the activities that have led to the contamination (which is proposed, ultimately, to be dealt with by ‘capping’ the relevant foreshore and reserve in concrete).
“The two councils have entered into discussions, and it appears they decided to do nothing until the commissioners’ determination on a resource consent application has gone through the appeal process, despite the evidence (conceded) that the present activities have and will continue to contaminate the land.”
Matters relating to the relatively few metres of coastline, the land to its north, south and west, and sea to the east, were significant in terms of revealing the operation of local authority and even central government committees, and the tremendous obstacles confronting those who struggled to uphold the values espoused in coastal policy statements and regional and district plans, she said.
Sunday’s public gathering at Walls Bay, for which a special haka has been written (but has yet to be performed).