Working for residents is rewarding

Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
Keith Savory
JASON OXENHAM
MEMBER: St Heliers-Glendowie residents association chairman Keith Savory.
Roger Cole-Baker
KARINA ABADIA
MEMBER: Former chairman of Parnell Community Committee Roger Cole-Baker.

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Working with local boards and having a say is rewarding and fosters a strong sense of community, leaders of residents associations say.

Keith Savory moved to St Heliers in 1972 but got involved in St Heliers-Glendowie residents association in 2007.

He joined because he has always had an interest in local politics.

"I'm in it because I want to see St Heliers remain a typical seaside village and make sure it's a great environment for everyone to enjoy."

A highlight of his involvement with the association was the strong participation rate of the survey it conducted into opinions regarding the construction of 387 Tamaki Dr - the controversial development on the corner of Maheke St.

They delivered the survey to 6000 residents and conducted 229 face-to-face interviews, receiving 1611 replies. That was very pleasing, he says.

Ellerslie residents association chairman Bryan Johnson has been involved in the group since its inception in March 2012 but his involvement in politics did not start there.

He joined the Ellerslie racecourse rezone opposition society four years ago because he was concerned about plans to build a hotel and apartment blocks around the course.

The society lost at the environment court because of a lack of funds but members were pleased to have been able to influence the scale of future development. Following this, some members decided to set up a residents association.

"We didn't want it to be a protest group but a proactive group of people who would advocate on what was best for Ellerslie," he says.

Mr Johnson says the association has achieved a lot in a short time.

They surveyed 4000 Ellerslie dwellings in May and received about 250 responses. Traffic and the lack of sports fields topped the list of respondents' concerns and the association presented the traffic issues to Auckland Transport in November.

Parnell community committee member Roger Cole-Baker handed over his chairmanship to Luke Niue late last year because it was time for some "new blood".

Leading the group for 12 years was a great experience, he says.

The chartered accountant moved to Parnell in 1991 and joined the committee soon after because he wanted to be involved in the local community.

Parnell is an interesting suburb because of the age of its buildings, he says.

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"It has always been under pressure from people who want development for development's sake rather than sustainable development."

Before the motorway was built in Grafton the association opposed a one-way viaduct being built down Grafton gully because it would have potentially created "horrendous traffic jams".

In the end Transit New Zealand came up with a plan to build the existing motorway. But the association's submission made a "huge difference", Mr Cole-Baker says.

A Kohimarama resident for the past 19 years, Adriana Gunder first got involved in the Mission Bay-Kohimarama residents association about six years ago. She has been president for the last three years.

The association's biggest achievement happened before Dr Gunder's time when in 1999, it successfully fought developers at the environment court to ensure commercial and residential buildings on Tamaki Dr and Marau Cres were limited to a maximum of 10 metres high.

Of late the association has given input into the Tamaki Dr and the Madills Farm masterplans. Members are focused on retaining the character of the different bays, she says.

"Okahu Bay is very unspoilt and we want it to remain that way, Kohimarama has only one cafe and we want to keep it like that. We would like to keep the bays as they are."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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