Almost 16 years after starting the fight to get the mangroves out of Pahurehure Inlet No 2, Graham and Gwenda Purdy have finally got the news they’ve been waiting for.
The Auckland Regional Council has granted the Papakura District Council consent to clear three hectares of mangroves from the inlet in an "official trial programme".
The 27.6ha inlet is clogged with mangroves, virtually putting a stop to its use as recreational facility.
The trial programme’s area is broken into one-hectare blocks and over the next few weeks contractors will clear mangroves from Youngs Reserve, the esplanade end of Westholm Way and near the motorway and culvert beside Rushgreen Ave.
A helicopter will airlift the cut mangroves away in a cargo net and drop them in Young’s Reserve where they will be chipped and recycled, Mr Purdy says.
Water quality, sediment and biodiversity measuring equipment will then go into the cleared areas and the data will go back to the Auckland Regional Council.
Mr Purdy says if the data doesn’t report any adverse environmental effects another six hectares of mangroves will go.
Getting consent from the regional council has been a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows, he says.
The first ARC hearing in 1995 "went nowhere really".
Then in 2001 the couple and other locals formed the Pahurehure Inlet Protection Society.
Mr Purdy says the community group was on one side of the argument and the regional council and the Department of Conservation were on the other.
"The last thing they wanted to do was take out a mangrove," he says.
In 2006 the regional and district councils released a draft management plan for the inlet.
More than 190 people sent in submissions and 318 people filled out postcard questionnaires.
At the time regional council environmental management committee chairwoman Dianne Glenn said more than 90 percent of submitters supported the removal of mangroves to improve boating access, navigation, recreation and water views.
Former Papakura mayor John Robertson said at the time his council was amending the draft plan and expected to have the revised version ready for deliberation within a few months.
Four years later and the revised plan is finally ready for action although it was almost scuttled again by a pair of footprints thought to belong to a banded rail, a rare native bird.
Mrs Purdy says after finding the footprints "six months of wheel-spinning delays ensued as the regional council pushed for further surveys at ratepayers’ expense, which, to its credit the Papakura council fought".
The district council deserves people’s admiration because "in the face of boundless regional council perversity they have maintained their resolve", she says.
In Papakura’s 2009-19 long-term community council plan almost $3.7 million has been set aside to implement the inlet’s management plan.
Around $1.25 million of that will go into mangrove removal.
Mrs Purdy says the society can now set its sights on other goals like enhancing parks around the inlet’s edge and addressing the stormwater problem.
"The society isn’t just about getting mangroves out.
"I see a beautiful resource for the children of Papakura. If Mission Bay can have sand Pahurehure Inlet No 2 can have its sand too."
- Papakura Courier
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