Waiheke Island group threatens civil disobedience

Waiheke activist Susi Newborn is one of the residents protesting against having the buses on the island.
SHANI WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Waiheke activist Susi Newborn is one of the residents protesting against having the buses on the island.

A group of Waiheke Island residents are threatening to mutiny by sitting on roads and raiding board meetings in protest against double-decker tourist buses on the island.

More than 40 residents threatened "non-violent direct action" at a local board meeting on February 23.

"We do not want to sit on roads, drive slowly in front of the double deckers, raid board meetings and shame the elected mayor - but we will," said spokeswoman Pam Oliver. 

Susi Newborn, right, makes her point as she sits next to fellow protestor Stephanie Honeychurch at the Waiheke Local ...
SHANI WILLIAMS/FAIRFAXNZ

Susi Newborn, right, makes her point as she sits next to fellow protestor Stephanie Honeychurch at the Waiheke Local Board meeting.

Double decker buses were introduced on December 10, 2016 for tourists to the paradise island, which is a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland central.

READ MORE:
*  Waiheke Island takes a stand over double-deckers
*  Waiheke Island ferry users say enough is enough

But while it has helped tourists get around the island, many residents feel it has been at a high cost and there are safety concerns.

The double-decker buses have been ferrying tourists around the island.
SHANI WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

The double-decker buses have been ferrying tourists around the island.

There have been reports buses have forced cars off the narrow island roads.

At the board meeting, Susi Newborn and Stephanie Honeychurch also gave an oral submission and handed over a petition with 1562 signatures.

The residents listed what they saw as an inadequate Fullers' ferry service, the pruning of protected native plants to accommodate double decker buses, and perceived impacts of double-deckers on resident safety among their concerns. 

Oliver said the group had contacted Auckland Transport Board chairman Dr Lester Levy, Mayor Phil Goff, chief AT Metro manager Mark Lambert and Fullers CEO Doug Hudson and had received "no adequate reply". 

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"Accordingly, we request that the local board address these issues," she said.

She added that she would not leave the meeting until the board committed within the next week to making changes.

Board member Cath Handley said within the next week the board would meet with Fullers senior management and within three weeks the board would meet with Auckland Transport and Auckland Council. 

"We will provide residents with progress updates," Handley said. 

Each member of the board said they endorsed the actions undertaken by the protesters. 

"We have to fight this tooth and nail and ensure Waiheke is not defeated by commercial interests," Handley said.

Councillor Mike Lee said Waiheke's concerns were part of an Auckland-wide problem based on population growth. 

"Look at the 2.2 million litres of sewerage dumped into Auckland's harbour - this is a consequence of growth."

But he said he supported recommendations to address Waiheke's issues.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye's representative Sam Williams said Kaye was "working towards a solution". 

 - Stuff

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