A plan to build an exclusive gated community on Pararekau Island in the Manukau Harbour has moved a step closer after the Environment Court approved an agreement between developers, local iwi and the Auckland Council.
After initial concerns about the environmental effects, legality and cultural impacts of the development the three parties came to an agreement on the proposal after a series of meetings over the past two years.
The 20-hectare Pararekau Island was bought 10 years ago by Karaka Harbourside Estate Ltd, the development company of Ian and James Ross.
For the past 80 years Pararekau, the second largest island in the harbour, has been used to graze stock, degrading the ecological value of the island.
The developers say farming Pararekau is no longer financially or environmentally viable and they plan to subdivide the island into 11 lifestyle blocks with a shared recreation area, wetlands and extensive coastal planting.
A causeway created in the 1960s would link the private community to the mainland. With a gate at either end of the causeway, vehicle access would be limited to residents, their guests and emergency services.
Pedestrians and cyclists would be able to use the road to access a walkway around the island's coastline.
Local iwi Ngati Te Ata initially opposed the plans, saying Pararekau is wahi tapu - a site of sacred significance.
But the preservation of archaeological sites in the developer's structural plan, and the continued public access to the island's coast that will allow iwi to undertake their kaitiaki (guardianship) role, convinced them to agree to the development.
The court acknowledged the significant ecological gains the proposal would provide including the restoration of the island's vegetation which would help the recovery of indigenous birds and lizards.
A final Environment Court decision on the plan change is still to come.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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