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Protesters submit marine park petition

DIANA WORTHY
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014
Waiheke
George Gardner
TOURIST ATTRACTION: Palm Beach is already popular and Save Our Beaches protesters say it and other northern beaches will become crowded if a current proposal for a marine park there goes through.

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Protesters seeking to prevent a marine reserve on Waiheke's northern beaches are waiting to hear what Parliament has to say.

The Keep Our Beaches protest group have submitted a petition to Auckland MP Nikki Kaye so it can be presented to the House.

The petition has been referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, who will now choose how to handle and consider it.

The committee may want the petitioners to provide further information about the specific nature of the petition and may request submissions from government departments and other interested parties.

It may also choose to request oral evidence.

The committee has several options when reporting on a petition to the House including a report with or without recommendations.

If the committee makes no recommendations, no further action will be taken on the petition.

Every select committee report that contains recommendations is referred to government.

Government must report on what action, if any, it has taken to implement the recommendations. That report must be made within 90 days of the select committee's report being presented.

Ms Kaye says the number of petitioners is significant and represents a lot of Waiheke residents.

"I realise there will be a diversity of views on this issue. As the MP for Waiheke I have duty to present this petition to the House, and I present petitions that I sometimes support and sometimes don't," she says.

"Personally while I support greater marine protection on Waiheke Island, I do not believe marine reserves on local beaches would be good for the island.

"It would affect the quality of life for many islanders."

The marine reserve off northern beaches has been proposed by Friends of the Hauraki Gulf, a group started by resident Alex Stone with about 200 supporters.

"It'd be good for fish, good for the local kids who'd be gifted a wonderful underwater laboratory, and good for tourism - visitors could grab a snorkel and admire big, happy fish up close, just like you can at Goat Island," he says.

"We are the biggest single community living entirely surrounded by the Hauraki Gulf, so we live inside this park.

"It behoves us to take the lead in environmental protection. It's our front yard. We should look after it."

WHAT IT SAYS

The petition says: "Deborah Cox, along with six others from Keep our Beaches, and 2639 other people have urged the House to prevent the establishment of a proposed marine reserve on the northern side of Waiheke Island between Oneroa and Thompsons Point, including Hekerua Bay, Sandy Bay, Enclosure Bay, Palm Beach, Boatshed Bay, Repo Bay and Waiheke Bay, and the House also urge the Government to prevent any future proposal to establish a marine reserve that may include Oneroa Beach, or Onetangi Beach." 

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