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Protecting the Seashore Access For Everyone – S.A.F.E.

Thank you to those who have generously supported the AYBA with funding to save The Landing and Bayswater Marina. Apologies for the late acknowledgement of your contribution. To date our team has been involved in preparing for the hearing at the High Court (18 April for The Landing), with little time for anything else!

We are now awaiting the judge’s decision on The Landing. This first case focused on whether to issue an injunction to prevent the Orakei Local Board destroying the Yard, ahead of a full High Court review of Council’s decision scheduled for later this year.  We are simultaneously preparing our appeal to the Environment Court over the Bayswater Marine Precinct housing intensification plans, for later this year. A date for mediation of this case is set for 18-19 May.

During our preparation for these cases, we have been alarmed to find just how little interest Auckland Council has in maintaining public access to the shoreline where Aucklanders relax, swim, paddle, launch their boats or just enjoy the marine environment. We started these battles with a focus on boat launching and hull cleaning but find ourselves increasingly concerned about Council’s entire approach to coastal recreational access and activities.

It’s a complex situation, involving a handful of very rich, politically connected developers, an urgent need for more housing in Auckland, and a very small handful of core Council staff who believe the private sector can be trusted to provide socially desirable outcomes for the city. One statement from Council sums this up:
“Space in coastal locations is increasingly attractive to alternative development”. Is your local club-house, favourite boat-ramp, trailer-parking area, dinghy storage or hardstand safe from sale or re-development?

Is the Council monitoring your local beach for a Caulerpa infestation? Is Council removing invasive pests from Council-owned marine infrastructure in your area, or just leaving them there to spread out through the harbour and be carried to our precious marine sanctuaries on unclean hulls. These are the questions all Aucklanders should be asking, now. We are! And we're genuinely worried by the answers we're getting back. Imagine Mission Bay or Takapuna Beach lost under a rotting mass of invasive marine seaweed.

The management of our city and recreational assets and resources has seen major changes since the advent of the Super City. Where we had 8 boroughs and cities managing their areas while overseeing the regional assets, our parks and reserves, the foreshore and coastal environment was the Auckland Regional Authority. We now have 21 local Boards all acting independently and parochially and with the power to manage their own patch There is NO REGIONAL planning! The Auckland City Council is loath to over-rule these often “Nimby” decision and the Mayor supposedly only has the casting vote.

With the formation of the Super City one of the organisations set up to look after our sporting assets was Sports AKtive. A document produced by this organisation for “Future Proofing Sport in Auckland” referred to seemingly all sports and their on-going requirements. The ONLY mention of all our aquatic activities were rowing on the Tamaki Estuary and sailing on the Gulf!!

On behalf of the Auckland Yachting and Boating Association I contacted all boating clubs and a number of other organisations that use our foreshore and the Gulf for their sport and recreational activities and produced a document for Future Proofing our aquatic sports field. There are at least 115 organisations involved including boat clubs, ocean swimmers, sea scouts, rowers, kayakers, waka, dragon boats, water skiers, fishermen …….. Many have club rooms for which they pay rent to the Council for short term rentals while providing valuable community assets in their local area. The club members pursuing their particular interests come from the wider Auckland region – they are Regional assets! This document was filed with Sports AKtive and tabled at a Council meeting where it is no doubt lost amongst the dusty archives.

The AYBA has a long involvement with all aspects of the boating world and the marine environment and is constantly monitoring consent applications that affect the access of the boating public and could affect the environment. We appealed the siting of the Dolphin off the wharves, we are constantly monitoring the location of fish farms and mooring areas and we have queried bottom trawling not only as ruination to our sea beds but as a biosecurity risk.

We now see the threat, not only to our marine environment, but to the access to Auckland’s greatest recreational area for all Aucklanders of all ages and ethnicities, our foreshore and coastal environment, the harbour and Gulf. We are concerned not only for the health and well-being of our water ways and oceans but also for the health and well-being of our population.

JW, for AYBA
23 April, 2023