An­other an­niver­sary at Walls Bay

The Northland Age - - Local News -

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.

PIC­TURE / SUP­PLIED

Sun­day’s pub­lic gath­er­ing at Walls Bay, for which a spe­cial haka has been writ­ten (but has yet to be per­formed).

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