Locals and historians are welcoming plans to preserve the history of a slice of the Miramar Peninsula.
The New Zealand Defence Force had been looking to off-load 76 hectares of surplus land on what it calls Watts Peninsula - near but not including Wellington Prison - which overlooks Sir Peter Jackson's Miramar film-making facilities.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Fran Wilde and Heritage and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson announced plans for the future of the area today.
Under the plan, a steering committee, headed by Sir Ngatata Love, would oversee the restoration of the area, including Fort Ballance, and would likely establish more walking trails.
It will become a 76 hectare reserve, ruling out the possibility of it being developed for housing.
Enterprise Miramar Peninsula chairman Allan Probert welcomed the announcement.
"It has always been our wish to preserve it for public ownership. We are very happy about the whole thing. It's the end of a long battle for us, so we are feeling very vindicated today. There's a wonderful story to be told there.''
Local historian Allan Jenkins said it was "a great day for Wellington.”
New Zealand Historic Places Trust Central Region General Manager Ann Neill said the site had "considerable historic and heritage significance ".
"We welcome moves to protect and conserve these sites. The peninsula’s proximity to the Capital makes it a unique place with significance to all New Zealanders."
Heritage and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson said the land's final status was not yet known, however he backed it becoming an historic reserve.
The land could end up being administered by the Historic Places Trust, Conservation Department, and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.
"Essentially it will be an all of crown activity.''
It could take as long as 50 years for the area to be developed, he said.
He hoped the reserve would one day rival Vancouver's Stanley Park.
"It's something that really adds to the amenity value of Vancouver and I want that here. "I see it being a place for walking cycling, visiting our military history and that of the early iwi of the area.”
The Dominion Post reported earlier this month that a deal was being worked on by Finlayson which would also see 13 hectares owned by the Corrections Department go to DOC.
A museum to showcase props from Sir Peter's blockbuster movies such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but also others from as far back as Bad Taste in 1987, has been trumpeted for years without coming to fruition.
The Defence Force is disposing of its land under the Public Works Act, which gives purchasing priority to other government departments.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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