Owners not sunk yet
Tough new rules could spell the end for Waiheke Island's houseboats but occupants say they won't be going anywhere without a fight.
Conditions outlined in the updated draft Auckland Council unitary plan mean the boats need to meet a certain standard to remain in use. But some owners say some of the requirements are unreasonable and too hard to meet.
Mark Parisian has moored his houseboats Gypsy Rose and Wind in the Willows at Rangihoua Creek for about 18 years.
He and other residents say they have historic rights to moor there and are backed by the Waiheke Local Board.
Mr Parisian says one of the new conditions demands that the houseboats meet current building code standards.
That, he says, is not possible because the walls of the boats are only half as thick as those permitted in more conventional dwellings.
"If our homes were houses, they would never be allowed to exist. We can't change that," Mr Parisian says.
He says the boats have been in the creek for about 30 years and not one has sunk, or anyone died as a result of living on them, so the structural integrity must be adequate.
Mr Parisian is also concerned about a condition that says all resource consents allowing houseboats to stay will have the same expiry date to enable a review of the coastal marine area.
That means owners could be told to pack up and go at a later date even if they have spent a lot of money getting their homes up to building consent standard, he says.
The original council proposal outlined in the draft unitary plan would have made the houseboats illegal.
Residents banded together to protest the move but say the new option is equally distressing.
"Everyone is shocked," Vera Shulze says. "We spent so many weeks of meetings, reading, research and writing feedback submissions. We hoped it would be OK."
Werner Kloepfer says the group does not feel it has been heard.
"We feel like we have to go back to the beginning. But we will fight on."
Waiheke Local Board chairwoman Faye Storer believes there is hope.
"It could be worse and there is still opportunity with the draft coming out for submissions for people to have their say.
"I urge everyone to do that."
The decision was ratified by the planning committee last week and was due to go before full council as part of the updated plan after the Waiheke Marketplace went to press.
If the council voted to approve the plan, it will be notified - probably by the end of this month.
It is likely to take up to three years before it comes into operation.
- Waiheke Marketplace
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