Reassurances don't end park fears

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2013

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There will be no high rises towering over Gladstone Park any time soon.

The land at the centre of treaty negotiations will remain as open space and will not be subject to intensification or commercial development, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson says.

The proposed treaty deal between the Crown and the Marutuahu iwi of Thames was outlined in a memorandum from chief crown negotiator Mike Dreaver to Auckland Council's general counsel Wendy Brandon in August (East & Bays Courier, August 14).

The area includes the Fred Ambler Lookout, the Gladstone Tennis Club, the early childhood centre and the playground.

Spokesman for the newly-formed Friends of Gladstone Park Incorporated Dennis Mahony says it's great to have the idea of commercial development off the table but there's still a way to go before the deal is finalised.

"We are concerned about the detail of the settlement. What we want in the end is to make sure that the park will still be there in 100 years."

Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers agrees the negotiations are far from complete.

"But it's a good day for Parnell in terms of moving away from the commercial redress that very nearly occurred."

Mr Finlayson says the Marutuahu iwi have extensive customary interests across Mahurangi, Auckland and the Coromandel-Hauraki.

They have particularly strong connections to the Gladstone Park area, Mr Finlayson says.

Mr Chambers says the Parnell community is keen to see the treaty claim settled but would prefer if the park did not form part of the negotiations.

"The Fred Amber Lookout is the appropriate cultural recognition of the historic post-treaty connection the iwi have to the area."

Auckland councillor Mike Lee is also against the proposed change of ownership of the park.

"The minister can only make assurances for as long as he is in office.

"The fact of the matter is that ownership is nine tenths of the law. Down the track it's going to be very hard to enforce any guarantees made in 2013."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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