Point England Reserve developers Ngati Paoa respond to public concerns

Pt England Reserve beach underwent a $1.1 million redevelopment in 2011.
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Pt England Reserve beach underwent a $1.1 million redevelopment in 2011.

An iwi which will develop hundreds of houses on an east Auckland reserve has poured cold water over residents' concerns.

In December last year the Government announced it would take steps to sell almost 12 hectares, or about a quarter of Point England Reserve to Ngati Paoa iwi.

The sale is part of a Treaty of Waitangi redress and would result in 300 new houses and a marae being built on reserve land.

The proposed housing development and marae site marked by red lines.
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The proposed housing development and marae site marked by red lines.

Under the redress 20 per cent of the houses will be social housing, 20 per cent will be sold as affordable, and 60 per cent will be sold on the open market.

Read more:
Affordable and social housing to be built on Auckland's Point England Reserve
Government to sell 1000 - 2000 state houses - John Key

Two online petitions have been started by concerned residents opposing the sale.

One petition opposes the development due to the impact it will have on local wildlife.

Patrick O'Meara, chair of the Tamaki Estuary Protection Society, said the proposed development would destroy a nesting site for endangered New Zealand dotterels.

"Houses would literally be built right on top of where they currently nest," O'Meara said.

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Ngati Paoa iwi Trust chief executive Hauauru Rawiri said the wellbeing of the birds was a priority.

"The dotterels moved to the reserve land in recent times, originally they were on a shell bank of the Tamaki river.

"We would look to repatriate the place they are originally from through restoration and revitalisation," Rawiri said.

Another online petition, started by Tsz Ho, has currently received 1517 signatures.

It calls for the Government to drop the Point England Development Bill, which if passed into law would allow the land to be sold the iwi.

"The Auckland City Unitary plan already earmarked Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure for housing intensification," the petition states.

"There will be a significant increase in population. Therefore it is illogical to cut down on open spaces in an area that needs it most."

Ho said the petition does not have a specific signature target.

"It's about getting the Government to take notice that we matter or voices and opinions matter," Ho said.

"We're the ones who have to live with the decisions they make and this decision cannot be undone.

"They can change taxes and rates after the fact but once they develop a piece of land it will never be returned as a reserve," he said.

The petition highlights that under the proposed plan houses will be built on two of the six sports fields at the reserve.

Rawiri said the iwi will be putting an emphasis on quality over quantity when it comes to the fields.

"Our argument is those sports fields are underdeveloped and underutilised," Rawiri said.

"Our objective is to have a conversation with the community and see how we can maximise their use," he said.

Rawiri said there has been no discussion about developing any other area of the reserve.

 - Stuff

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