MINUTES OF THE SIXTY-FOURTH MEETING OF THE AUCKLAND CONSERVATION BOARD HELD ON WEDNESDAY 14 MAY 2003 AT ARATAKI VISITOR CENTRE LECTURE ROOM, WAITAKERE RANGES COMMENCING AT 9.30 AM.
PRESENT: Paddy Stafford-Bush (Chairperson), Stephen Ching, Anne Fenn, Mel Galbraith, David Hill, Tony Holman, Margaret Kawharu, Alan La Roche, Catherine (Cath) Tizard; Denise Yates
IN ATTENDANCE: Rob McCallum (Auckland Conservator); Warwick Murray (Community Relations Manager); Rau Kapa (Kaupapa Atawhai Manager); Marie Alpe (Community Relations Officer Board Support)
Annie Wheeler (Community Relations Supervisor, Public Awareness); Emma Rush (Community Relations Officer Marine Reserves); Vicki Carruthers (Waikato RMA planner); Marilyn Fullam (Community Relations Officer Coastal) and Kala Sivaguru (Technical Support Officer) for Public Forum and Items 7.2 and 8.3.
VISITORS: David Chandler [NZCA]; Tony Poninghaus and Annabel Davies [Watercare Services Ltd]; Trish Rea [Tiritiri Action Group]; John van der Haas [Sand and Sea]; Scott Macindoe; Judy Hanbury and Jim Holdaway [Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) Supporters Trust]; Ken Catt [West Coast Park Working Group]; Jaci Fowler [Forest & Bird/West Coast Park Working Group]; David Pattemore [Northern Region Office, Forest and Bird]; Jim and Laura McKinlay [Mid North Forest and Bird/Omaha Dotterel Group]
Rau Kapa offered a karakia.
Paddy welcomed everyone to the meeting and acknowledged the presence of Jim Holdaway and Judy Hanbury from the Little Barrier (Hauturu) Supporters Trust and NZCA member David Chandler. Apologies were recorded from Laly Haddon and Marilyn Stephens.
RESOLVED that the apologies be accepted.
2. PUBLIC FORUM
Tony Poninghaus, Water Resources Manager for Watercare Services Ltd introduced himself and Annabel Davies Environmental Planner Watercare Services Ltd advising that they wished to brief the Board on the process for renewal of consents for Waitakere water supply dams and consultation associated with that. Annabel explained that there were five dams on three streams in the Waitakere Ranges built between early 1900’s and 1971, that this was the first time consents were being dealt with through a public process and under the Resource Management Act 1991. She added that a significant issue was whether water should be released to enhance downstream environments, the downside of this approach being that this may result in a need to ensure any shortfall can be made up elsewhere in the network. Annabel showed a short video providing information on the location of the dams and an overview to the project. Tony concluded the presentation by reiterating the consultation process with Waitakere City Council and inviting feedback.
Issues raised in discussion were fish passage, access for recreation and what percentage of water in the catchment was required to ensure adequate supply versus increased downstream flows. With regard to fish passage, Tony and Annabel explained the situation with the Hunua dams and advised that this was a matter to be investigated further as to potential effects, whether solutions were needed and if so, what the best approach might be. On the matter of provision for recreation on the water bodies and in the catchments, Tony noted the overseas precedents for this and said that consultation with ARC as landowner would be required and management of issues such as security of supply. He added that it could be explored further if identified by the community as an issue and advised also that with regard to the water flows issue input from the public was needed on this. A question was also asked about the electricity generating potential. Paddy noted that Denise and possibly one other member would be liaison people for the Board and also the wish of the Board to be kept informed.
The next speaker was John Van der Haas from Sand and Sea. He explained that the group was recently formed in response to the release of the Auckland West Coast Marine Park discussion document based around concerns at lack of consultation and impact on users. In response to a question on the intent of the group, John advised that their view was that existing laws were adequate to protect Auckland’s West Coast, they needed to be better enforced.
Jim McKinlay [Mid-North Forest and Bird, Omaha Dotterel Group] spoke about the predator control work done by their group in the last seven years and the breeding success resulting from this as well as the significance of Omaha as a post-breeding flocking site for NZ dotterel. He went on to express concern at the future for the birds as the final section of subdivision is developed bringing people impacts even closer to nesting sites. Jim expressed interest in the mangrove issue on the agenda.
The report by the Conservator to the last Board meeting on the value of the work of Jim and Laura was noted, and the point made that without the predator control work they had undertaken the NZ dotterel colony would not still be there. What to do to avoid impacts from development was discussed and Laura McKinlay and Rob commented on the importance of education and community ownership as opposed to erecting physical barriers. It was noted that there was already a supportive local community. In response to a question about replacing the burnt down interpretation panels, Laura talked about a need to ensure they were protected from vandalism first.
Trish Rea spoke on behalf of the Tiritiri Action Group, reading first a statement from Gay Harding. Trish outlined the Group’s concerns, prompted by the NZUA proposal, at adhoc marine reserve applications and a lack of a coordinated approach to marine protection in the region. She talked about how this, poor process and inadequate consultation with user groups which she felt had been the case with the NZUA proposal, antagonised people hardening opposition to marine reserves. Trish made the point that there was a need for the Department of Conservation to take a lead in developing policy in consultation with all the affected parties. In response to a question on whether the group was opposed to the Tiritiri proposal in fact or in principle, Trish advised that TAG had concerns about the proposal on safety grounds.
Scott Macindoe was the next speaker and extended an apology on behalf of Jane West, Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua for not being able to attend as planned. Scott explained that Jane had provided papers to be tabled and Marie confirmed that these would be circulated to members [Action]. Scott talked about the Cheltenham Beach Caretakers and the rahui on the taking of shellfish involving Ngati Paoa and Ngati Whatua and outlined the surveys undertaken by the group. He commented on the difficulties now faced by communities trying to achieve a comparable management regime for example at Piha, post Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement Act and the allocation process. Scott noted the current context of pressure of marine reserve applications making points that a crucial issue was lack of empowering legislation to enable communities to address fisheries management issues in the inter-tidal zone and secondly customary fisheries management would come to the fore with Iwi enthusiasm for relevant mechanisms. Scott concluded by expressing concern at marine reserves as a solution as only a few species were fished and people were shut out from fishing forever when water quality degradation was the real issue.
Points made by members were that: it was simplistic to view marine reserves as a fishery management tool and the land-water continuum was important; the problem is the means not the end with everyone beating each other up so that what is needed is leadership. Scott responded from an option4 perspective [group formed in response to the Soundings document to propose a recreational fishing focussed fourth option], saying that the public were ready to take dramatic moves to achieve sustainability but rights to fish for food were not addressed and both Iwi and the public were ignored in the fishery quota management system. He expressed a concern that marine reserves were being pushed as the solution saying while they had their place they may not be the right solution.
Jaci Fowler spoke on behalf of the West Coast Working Group explaining that Forest and Bird had funded the project and that there was a divergence of view between the Working Group and Forest and Bird. Jaci noted that the former favoured a range of options being explored and an integrated approach rather than just marine reserves. She went on to explain the rationale for the approach in the document. Jaci outlined the consultation process advising that the submission deadline had been extended to 30 June 2003. She commented on the nature of responses being received to date noting that Forest and Bird would need to investigate further its marine reserve proposals. Jaci added that it was likely that this would line up with a classification/representativeness approach contemplated by the Department. She noted that there were various models for a marine park and these would need to be considered further.
In response to a question Jaci advised that one further public meeting was to be held and that meeting with stakeholder groups was also being looked into. A suggestion was made that the Board needed to look at the “bigger picture” given there were clearly a number of issues, rather than getting lost in particular actions and that this should be put on the table in relation to marine reserve items on the agenda. This was noted. Jaci reiterated the openness of the West Coast Working Group to meeting with stakeholder groups such as Sand and Sea.
Rob asked if he could make a brief statement as the Crown’s advocate noting the keen interest in marine conservation but from different angles. He acknowledged concerns at the lack of clarity in where a marine reserve network might go and explained the role of the Department of Conservation to process applications. Rob commented that he did not accept criticisms on adequacy of consultation as he was aware of the work put into this. He also pointed out that marine reserves were an ecological management tool and while they might have an effect in relation to soil and water conservation or fisheries management this was not their primary purpose. Rob concluded by making the point that the current 1.5% of marine areas protected was pathetically small.
7. MAJOR ITEMS
7.2 Mangroves [Background report appended]
Vicki Carruthers, RMA Planner Waikato Conservancy explained that she was the Department’s representative on the Mangroves Steering Group [MSG] meaning she represented Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty Conservancies. Vicki commented that the issue was the accelerated infill of harbours and consequential community concern at the loss of open space, adding that a number of communities were seeking to have reference to mangroves protection removed from NZCPS policies on preservation of natural character.
Information provided by Vicki included:
- Groups and agencies represented on the MSG noting that it had initially been facilitated by Ministry for the Environment.
- Information gathering/exchange focus
- Terms of Reference not yet signed off by all parties.
- A parallel process of MSG and community group meetings.
- Papers - Issues Paper; Research Gaps and Information Requirements and a Bibliography [Copies tabled]
- Research areas – better understanding process and extent of mangrove distribution; biodiversity values; mangrove management – effects of removal/addressing the cause namely sedimentation
- Pressure for resource consent approvals in all four regions.
- Funding a key issue as MSG has no funds in its own right and was not successful in a bid to the Sustainable Management Fund partly due to lack of an administrating body. Looking at mechanisms to enable research funding as this crucial to progress as well as the development of monitoring protocols. Some support may come from regional councils for the latter.
Vicki was thanked for her presentation. Questions were asked about research by universities and government departments as well as whether there was any interest at a central government political level and which Minister was taking responsibility. Further points were made about the inadequacy of the situation with a lack of backing, coordination and with one major party not prepared to sign up so while it was hoped this was not the case it seemed mangrove removal was not agreed as an issue. Rob reported that the situation had been discussed at a recent regional management meeting and there was agreement on the need for more “oomph”. He advised that a letter of encouragement to the Regional General Manager Northern would be timely and suggested also alerting the Minister to the fact that this was a regional issue worthy of his attention.
Anne proposed that the Mangroves Sub-committee of the four northern conservation boards and the NZCA be reinstated with a purpose of putting pressure on the department to acknowledge the problem. Points made in further discussion included:
- Re-convening the sub-committee while it could have a monitoring role, would not be an efficient approach
- The MSG needed to work properly – for example with a Chair and a government department or local government agency taking responsibility.
- Need for responsibility at several levels but in particular central government
- Include the Minister for Rural Affairs as well as the Minister of Conservation and Minister for the Environment.
- Care is needed that the focus of the group does not become facilitating mangrove removal - that is the underlying premise needs to be that mangrove removal is not permitted and catchment issues addressed.
- Ministry for the Environment should be the lead agency as this is an environmental issue
- Availablity of information on the pattern over time in terms of increase/decline – Vicki advised that this was not well understood.
RESOLVED that the Board
(1) write to Peter Lawless Northern General Manager as suggested by the Auckland Conservator
(2) write to the Minister of Conservation asking him to take up with his colleagues the Ministers of Local Government, for the Environment and Rural Affairs, reactivation and leadership of the Mangrove Steering Group with a copy of the letter to the New Zealand Conservation Authority.
Anne was agreed as the Board’s liaison person for the MSG noting that she had previously a “watchdog” role following the disestablishment of the Mangroves Sub-committee.
8.3 Statutory Actions – Non Concession -Judicial Review – Bayswater Marginal Strip Reduction [reports appended]
Paddy introduced the item noting that there were two aspects – what the decision meant in respect of the Bayswater marina situation and secondly legal implications for the future management of marginal strips. She declared a conflict of interest and handed chairing of the agenda item to Alan La Roche.
Warwick confirmed that the Minister would not be appealing but intended to seek legislative amendment to address specific legal implications in respect of reclamation and that this might be narrowed to reclamation for port and airport purposes.
David put forward his perspective in relation to the implications of the decision expressing the view that the ability to reduce marginal strips for good reason as provided for in the legislation was an important principle to retain. He explained his personal view that an appeal had been needed to clarify this and aspects of the decision in relation to reclamation. He commented that the outcome was likely to be perverse planning decisions with reclamation footprints extended. David explained his alternative recommendation for the Board to advise the Minister to seek legislative amendment to reinstate the marginal strip provisions of the Conservation Act as passed in 1987 – that is the Land Act provisions.
Warwick provided clarification of esplanade reserve and marginal strip requirements as they pertained to reclamation and commented that there was potential conflict and an issue of achieving effective integration between what is done under RMA consent processes in respect of esplanade reserves and the Conservation Act marginal strip provisions. He noted also that legally the Minister could not authorise a reduction of a marginal strip below 3 metres and that this could result in difficulties in reclamation for port and airport purposes where public access was just not practical because of safety issues. He used the Fergusson Container wharf as an example explaining that in this instance the situation had been resolved by an exchange. Marilyn Fullam provided further information agreeing that the esplanade reserve/marginal strip situation for reclamation was very complex but nonetheless needed to be explored and anomalies legally addressed to ensure public access to and along the foreshore could be preserved. David commented that addressing the implications of the Randerson decision and the integration issue Warwick had talked about should be kept separate.
Tony expressed an alternate view in respect of advising the Minister to seek legislative amendment. He said that the Board should not concern itself with the finer points of the law or the implications of the Randerson decision, but uphold matters of principle such as protecting the public realm from encroachment of private interests and the principle of public access to the foreshore.
Points made in further discussion included:
- There was a constitutional issue in that legislation gave the Minister discretion but the Courts had constrained this. The need to protect the public realm was not disputed.
- The Board needed information on the nature of legislative amendment proposed by the Minister before it could consider support or not.
- Concept of discretion was problematic from a Maori perspective as the Department needed a clear sense of responsibility for Iwi in considering disposal of Crown land, so the outcome created by the Randerson decision is preferred.
- No clear indication that the Minister was going to address the issue of his capacity to make a decision in seeking legislative amendment. Warwick said he understood that the Minister’s greater concern was integration between RMA and Conservation Act processes.
- How did this relate to the matter the Board had previously taken up with the NZCA in respect of the Airport Company marginal strip reduction application. Marie noted that the NZCA had a made a submission to the Select Committee considering reform of the RMA. [Action – provide information and clarification to members of what had been done previously]
RESOLVED that the Board write to the Minister of Conservation seeking clarification of his intentions with respect to amending the Conservation Act marginal strip provisions.
Paddy resumed chairing the meeting.
3. REVIEW AND CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES
4.1 Minutes of the meeting of 27 February 2003
Outstanding action points were noted as the Poor Knights High Court decision, Dome Valley Walkway, 4WD Vehicle Forum questionnaire. [Action] Rob provided a brief update on Kaikoura Is and a suggestion of members making submissions to Auckland City annual plan process was made. A suggested change of wording on page 9 – replacing “stymie” with “frustrate” was agreed.
RESOLVED that the minutes be confirmed as amended.
6.1 Auckland Conservator’s Report [report appended]
Rob asked that his report be taken as read. He tabled a fact sheet on the Historic Heritage funding package and spoke to this. The Board having a liaison person for the Chinese Conservation Education Trust was raised. Mel and Steven were agreed to undertake this role. Discussion returned to the Historic Heritage funding package. Appreciation was expressed at this in particular re Kerikeri Basin. The financial difficulties of the Far North District Council were noted and concern expressed that the Stone Store could still be irretrievably damaged and that there was a need for ongoing inter-agency cooperation and central government support.
RESOLVED that the Board send a letter of appreciation to the Minister and Prime Minister flagging the Board’s concerns regarding the Kerikeri Stone Store.
Paddy spoke briefly on the value of her involvement in the site visit to Matukuturua with the Minister. Questions were asked about progress with the implementation of the Otuataua Stonefields re interpretation and signage. Including an update in respect of both sites in the next Conservator’s report was requested. [Action]
RESOLVED that the report be received.
Major Items ctd
7.1 Followup - Little Barrier Island/Hauturu and Mokohinau Islands Inspection
Little Barrier Island/Hauturu: Paddy spoke of the unique conservation values of the island saying it was a delightful place and that it had been a blessed trip. She acknowledged the work of the Supporters Trust. Other comment made by members included: great work being done particularly on the Mokohinau where access difficulties; quality and quantity of birdlife; unforgettable experience of watching nature at work; the tuatarium; trip helped overcome any intellectual obstacles to kiore eradication - seeing is believing. Thanks were expressed to the staff who had been involved in the trip. It was suggested that the feedback from members be passed on to island ranger, Will Scarlett. [Action]
Mokohinau Islands - A CMS implementation report was tabled. Paddy asked members to provide comment back to her by the end of May for report back to the June meeting. [Action] Margaret asked what “progress’ meant and it was agreed that it would be useful for some thought to be given to this in relation to developing a performance measure for the Treaty objective.
7.3 Motuihe Restoration Project Update [report appended]
Anne raised the question of a liaison person for the Trust saying that there had not been anyone since she resigned as a Trustee. Warwick commented that there had been confusion as to the Board’s role, that is whether a member formally represented the Board on the Trust as a Trustee or was a liaison person, adding that the advice of the Department would be against the former. Members expressed agreement. The Board role and how to ensure it was appropriately involved was discussed further. Comment made included:
- The role of the Board was to provide advice at the time a Trust was set up and if it was comfortable with the set up and the plans the Trust is working to, received occasional updates from the Department, then formal liaison should not be necessary.
- Circumstances of Motuihe meant that this had not happened and it was unclear where the preparation of a restoration plan was at.
Warwick explained that the Trust had needed some acknowledgement of legitimacy from the Department to get going and apply for funding applications and confirmed that restoration plans etcetera were underway and would be put through to the Board in due course. Ngati Paoa involvement was discussed and Margaret expressed some concern as to whether the Iwi’s involvement was documented. The point was made that an issue for further consideration might be the development of policy on tangata whenua being Trustees. Margaret expressed the view that this was the choice of Iwi concerned and this was why a paper trail on their involvement in this case would be valuable. [Action]
(1) the report be received.
(2) the Department be asked to provide the Board with any documents for Motuihe on matters pertaining to the Auckland CMS for comment prior to approval.
(3) the Board undertake a site visit of Motuihe with the Department and the Trust in November 2003.
13. OTHER BUSINESS
David had given notice of two extra-ordinary business items at the beginning of the meeting. He spoke to these noting that one being more information on the historic heritage funding package had already been dealt with
RESOLVED that the Board write to Gerry Rowan, Northland Conservator in relation to his pending retirement acknowledging the work he had done for conservation in Auckland and Northland.
Quarrying of Volcanic Features
Alan spoke to this item expressing concern at ongoing quarrying of volcanic features citing Ellet’s Mountain and Crater Hill as examples. He said that it was time to say no and to look at alternative sources of metal. This was discussed as to what the Board could do and the point made that if proposed heritage amendments to the RMA were lost the only avenue was likely political pressure. It was agreed to keep a watching brief. [bringup].
7.4 Marine Reserve Proposals Update [report appended]
Rob provided an update on the consultation process for the GBI marine reserve proposal to date noting that while considerable support had been received for the concept, key issues were likely to be access to shellfish beds and local fishing spots.
Developing a strategy was raised and Warwick spoke to this. He explained that a brief was being developed based on the approach in Northland. Research work was to be completed by NIWA by the end of June and this together with the coastal classification system would be used by expert forums it was proposed to set up in the new financial year to work on identifying sites of significance and representativeness. It was expected that these would then go to community forums in 2004. Warwick commented in respect of whether the Department had “jumped the gun” with the GBI proposal that this had been identified in the Auckland CMS and there was a compelling case.
Points made in discussion included:
- Would the strategy take away the initiative from the community to put up applications. Warwick confirmed that this was definitely not the intent and the objective was achieving community ownership of the proposed network of reserves and applications emerging from this.
- Danger that when a map of representative sites is released, it will get jumped on - that is people might say they support a strategic process but will still have site-specific objections. Critical issues were DOC ownership of the process, planning to deal with the fallout and adequate resourcing.
- Concern at the indication that the strategic exercise might be resource constrained.
- Experience of comparable processes had shown that getting criteria out for early discussion was critical.
- Implications of the Marine Reserves Bill for the GBI proposal. It was noted that the proposal was at the pre-statutory stage. Margaret added that she was aware that issues were arising through the Marine Reserves Bill process that she believed could have implications.
Clarification was provided on the timelines and process for both the GBI and West Coast proposals as well as how this fitted with the programme for developing the strategy.
(1) the report be received
(2) the Board supports and encourages the Department in its approach of identifying a network of sites suitable for marine protection throughout the Conservancy
(3) the Board request the Department to provide regular updates on progress.
8. STATUTORY ACTIONS
8.1 Resource Consent Applications by the Department of Conservation
Rob provided an update on the consent granted for the Hauturu kiore eradication. He advised that the Department had concerns about the condition of consent requiring the transfer of kiore to another site pointing out that it was beyond the ability of the Department itself to carry out this condition. He added that the Department was talking with the Auckland Regional Council and Ngatiwai as to where to from here and added that he had made the decision from an operational perspective to defer until winter 2004 subject to conditions being resolved.
8.2 Concession Schedules [appended]
Points made included:
- Heletranz application – what was the policy on cancellation due to lack of progress by the applicant. [Action] Concern was expressed that the application could in effect be blocking others.
- Whale watch applications – was a point being reached where there should be no more consents granted. Warwick explained that legally the Department was required to consider applications on their merits and legal advice to this effect had slowed down the work previously reported to the Board on developing a site plan. He added that contemporaneously with the assessment of individual applications a process was being developed to assess capacity in the Hauraki Gulf and whether a moratorium is required. [Bringup]
- Need for a pre-cautionary approach with the Manukau Harbour Maui dolphin application.
RESOLVED that the schedules be received.
9. SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS
Margaret asked for clarification of the role of sub-committee convenor and it was agreed that it was up to her how she managed consulting with the other members who were Maori or what issues were brought to the table. Margaret tabled the submission of Te Ohu Kia Moana on the Marine Reserves Bill and a submission from South Kaipara Iwi on Aquaculture Reform commenting that there are policy issues raised in both of interest and which needed to be taken into account. [Action circulate]
RESOLVED that the submissions on the Tiritiri Matangi Marine Reserve proposal submission and Helicopter guidelines be endorsed.
Paddy spoke to the report on the outcome of the Board’s involvement in the North Shore Busway appeals adding that she had expressed concerns about a wording in the consent order but it was too late to amend.
RESOLVED that the report be received.
David and Paddy reported on their attendance at the Marine Reserves Bill Select Committee hearing noting that the experience remained a depressing one but that they had been able to talk directly with the policy analysts.
RESOLVED that consideration of the Marine Protection for Auckland’s Wild West Coast proposal and the GBI marine reserve proposal be deferred to a special informal meeting.
Holding the informal meeting on Thursday 22 May, 6pm at Cath’s home was agreed.
With respect to NZCA correspondence with Land Access Reference Group, concern was expressed about the representativeness of this group and how providing for limited controlled access through private land could be addressed. Denise expressed a personal interest noting that landowner concerns conferring an umbrella heritage status on the Waitakere Ranges would result in pressure for wholesale access through private land and undertook to keep the Board informed. [Bringup] Progress with resolving access issues with the Okura/Stillwater Walkway was raised and it was agreed an update in the next Conservator’s report would be useful. David Chandler added that it was hoped that the Crown Minerals Act land access agreement model would be explored as a workable alternative to secure Walkways.
10. MINUTES - NEW ZEALAND CONSERVATION AUTHORITY AND NEIGHBOURING CONSERVATION BOARDS
The NZCA Chair’s memo for the April meeting was tabled. David Chandler provided further information on the process for public consultation on the draft Conservation Act and National Parks General Policies. It was noted that this would be a significant agenda item for the June meeting. The point was made that the national parks policy component should be kept to a minimum in the briefing for the Auckland board.
There was no further reports.
12. CORRESPONDENCE [schedules appended]
Alan confirmed that he would attend the NZ Coastal Policy Statement review workshop. There was no comment in relation to the Ministry of Fisheries Fisheries correspondence on controlling the spread of brown bullhead catfish.
14. DATE AND VENUE FOR THE NEXT ORDINARY MEETING
Thursday 26 June 2003, Conservancy office
The meeting closed at 2.35pm.
Minutes confirmed as amended at meeting of 26 June 2003
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