Waiheke Island takes a stand over double-deckers

Waiheke activist Susi Newborn, of Rainbow Warrior fame, is among the protestors.
SHANI WILLIAMS

Waiheke activist Susi Newborn, of Rainbow Warrior fame, is among the protestors.

More than 2000 Waiheke Island residents are petitioning for the immediate removal of Fullers' double decker tourist buses from the island. 

The group has contacted Mayor Phil Goff, Auckland Transport and the Waiheke Local Board to request an urgent meeting.

Double decker buses were introduced on December 10, 2016 for tourists to the paradise island, which lies 35 minutes by Fullers' ferry from Auckland.

Waiheke resident Stephanie Honeychurch has been collecting signatures for the petition. "Most locals are glad to sign ...
SHANI WILLIAMS

Waiheke resident Stephanie Honeychurch has been collecting signatures for the petition. "Most locals are glad to sign and pleased there's a petition," she said.

But many residents feel it has been at a high cost. 

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"They are a threat to the Waiheke environment and resident safety," activist Pam Oliver said.

Since the buses started plying Waiheke roads, Auckland Council has pruned roadside trees and vegetation so the buses can "operate without creating a traffic hazard". 

Auckland Council's Chris Loughborough said The Land Transport Act allowed standard vehicles of up to 4.25 metres in height. 

"To allow for vehicles to exercise their legal right, Auckland Council undertakes vegetation maintenance," Loughborough said.

But many of the trees pruned on Waiheke are pohutukawa, taraire, manuka and kanuka.

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"These are protected natives," Oliver said. 

"Waiheke's great value, not only to residents but also to visitors is its rural wairua," protestor Susi Newborn said. 

"Pruning natives when they are flowering puts the life of the tree itself at risk.

Newborn said that the "senseless" pruning was paid for by ratepayers. 

"I also understand these vehicles exceed the weight allowable for the current rating of Waiheke roads.

"Presumably the damaged roads will also be paid for from ratepayer funds," Newborn said. 

But Fullers CEO Doug Hudson said the vehicles have undergone height, weight and width clearance trials.

"Also, it is important to note that these vehicles are no longer, heavier or wider than the existing ones," Hudson said. 

But many residents are not convinced.

The petition - signed by more than 2000 people - has succeeded in getting Auckland Council to stop the pruning temporarily, pending a meeting with the Waiheke Local Board. 

"The next step is get these buses off our roads," Oliver said.

"This is really what the petition is about." 

Oliver said there had been already four incidents involving the double-deckers and there were fears for 'life and limb'.

The Waiheke Police said they were compiling complaints they had received detailing concerns about the buses.

 - Stuff

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