Hui held over Point England Reserve housing development

Ngati Paoa want to build 300 houses on what has been public land at Point England.
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Ngati Paoa want to build 300 houses on what has been public land at Point England.

A hui called to ease tensions over Auckland Waitangi Treaty settlement plans has been criticised for increasing anger at the process.

Ngati Paoa Iwi called a hui at an east Auckland marae to discuss their proposed housing development closed.

The hui was touted as an opportunity for the Iwi to share their vision for Point England Reserve, and to listen to local residents concerned by the intensification of their neighbourhood.

East Auckland local Tsz Ho says that Point England Reserve should remain public land.

East Auckland local Tsz Ho says that Point England Reserve should remain public land.

But some attendees said the meeting had come too late - less than one week before parliamentary submissions close - and others said a powhiri opening the occasion went on too long, squeezing them for time and forcing them to leave before they could voice their opinions.

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The Point England Development Enabling Bill would allow 12 hectares of reserve land to be sold to Ngati Paoa as party of a Treaty of Waitangi redress.

A haka was performed outside Ruapotaka Marae as local Iwi and concerned residents entered for the hui.

A haka was performed outside Ruapotaka Marae as local Iwi and concerned residents entered for the hui.

Tsz Ho, who started an online petition for the bill to be dropped, said he was disappointed it had taken so long for the parties to meet.

"Ngati Paoa's consultation process could have been a lot better - this is a bit late and I think it would have been better for them to have discussed their plans with locals earlier," he said.

"This is the first time there's been any sort of meeting about the development."

The development will supplant a nesting site for endangered dotterals.
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The development will supplant a nesting site for endangered dotterals.

Submissions against the bill close on January 31 and Tsz was worried that didn't leave enough time for people to properly grasp its implications.

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Around 200 people attended the hui; locals of all ages filed into the narrow marae for an hour-long powhiri and a haka was performed by women at its entrance.

One Glen Innes resident, who did not want to be named, said she didn't think the proceedings - which were conducted mainly in Maori - were the best way to get the area's residents on side.

"I've actually got to go home and feed my children now," she said after the powhiri.

"But I have grave concerns about this housing development and haven't been given the chance to say my bit ... this is frustrating."

She said she would prefer the land to remain a public reserve and opposed the bill allowing it's intensification.

Tea and lamingtons were served after the powhiri, then members of Ngati Paoa explained to those still there about their historical connection to the land.

They said they aimed to build at least 300 houses and a marae on the land.

Twenty per cent of the houses would be social housing, 20 per cent would be sold as affordable, and 60 per cent would be sold on the open market.

Ho said that his problem was with the crown for attempting to sell the land in the first place, not with the Iwi.

"I do agree we need more housing, but Auckland should be built up and not out," he said.

"Building here would be building out.

"That reserve was defined by people way before me, for the future generations to enjoy." 

Point England is the largest tract of public open space on the Tamaki River foreshore and has been used for grazing cattle. If the development went ahead, it would shrink from 45 hectares to 33 and lose some playing fields.

In December last year housing minister Nick Smith announced that 12 hectares of the land would be developed into affordable and social housing.

"Frankly we cannot have land within 12 kilometres of the CBD of Auckland grazing cows when we have the high level of housing need," he said at the time.

The move also has some locals worried about resident dotterals - endangered native birds - because the houses would be built on their nesting site.

 - Stuff

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