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Report on Public Meeting held at Waiuku 9 May 2003

Report on Public Meeting
West Coast Marine Park

Venue: Waiuku Community Hall, Waiuku, Franklin
Date: Friday 9 May 2003
Chair: Kevin Lawrence, Franklin District Councillor
Duration: 2.0 hours
Attendance: 180 people

The document Greater Marine Protection for Auckland’s Wild West Coast draft proposal for public discussion document was presented as a discussion paper.

Ken Catt, convenor of the West Coast Working Group addressed the meeting. “ A lot of you are wondering who we are and what we are doing dealing with your affairs in Franklin. A couple of years ago there were representation from residents along the West Coast and Mayor Bob Harvey and David Cunliffe in Waitakere called a meeting to discuss the failing of existing legislation to protect the coast. Penguins were being killed, reefs being stripped of all life, perhaps a lot of suspect fishing activities and so on, both animal and plant pests were causing problems. The forty or so groups represented at the meeting suggested that a Marine Park could be an option to increase protection. A Working Group was elected consisting of councils, residents, fishermen, dive clubs, conservation organizations and Mayor Bob Harvey kindly nominated me as convenor. 15,000 leaflets were delivered to residents on the West Coast from South Head (Kaipara) to the Waikato River.”

Marine Park Presentation
Jaci Fowler went through the PowerPoint presentation. It was stressed on many occasions that the Working Group were only discussing a Marine Park as opposed to a marine reserve.

It was interesting to note during the presentation Jaci said “ the idea behind the Marine Park is to set up an advisory board. The advisory board would be made up of representatives of the community, different stakeholder groups, recreational groups, 4 wheel drive groups, fishing clubs, all those kind of people would have a place on this advisory board. The advisory board would act as a pressure group. Their role in doing that would be to integrate any sort of legislation that already exists and try and get the enforcement in place, that we all seem to be agreeing to that we are lacking on the West Coast. It is an enforcement issue that really needs to be addressed. This is a community initiative.”
Yet in the draft legislation presented in the discussion document there is only one representative from the recreational sector on the Advisory Board. One out of fifteen members of the board, this is not enough representation for recreational users of the coast.
Jaci used the Sugar Loaf Island Marine Park as an example of a successful park plan. It is noted that amateur long lining and set netting within this area is not allowed. Line fishing with a maximum of three hooks is allowed.

Confusion was apparent amongst those attending the meeting. Confusion over the two different documents that have been circulated, what the West Coast Working Group are trying to control and what they are trying to achieve.

As in the other public meetings many comments were made regarding the existing regulations and the lack of enforcement. One comment from the floor was “ we don’t need regulations on top of more regulations.” There was concern that MFish had reduced Honorary Fisheries Officer (HFO) numbers to such low levels that the only time locals witnessed HFO’s on the beach was during scallop harvesting season.

Publicity regarding the public meeting was discussed, or lack of. The response to the allegation there had been no advertisements placed in the Franklin County News, Waiuku Post or Franklin Life newspapers, was there had been an article in the Counties News the previous week.

Consultation was discussed and the lack of inclusion of the local people. Although Ngaati Te Ata had been involved, the Franklin District Council, Kariotahi Beachcare Society and the local MP had had very little input into the process. Dr Paul Hutchison, MP, Port Waikato made the statement “ I have a great interest in fishing. This initiative seems to have come from the Waitakere area. There is a certain arrogance to suggest that this Marine Park extends down the coast to Port Waikato and you have not formally gone through the process of contacting me, other than with one brief note to which I replied immediately. I have heard nothing since.”

Lloyd May, a local resident made the point, “I have been involved in the process to resist the set net ban on this coast. Lives will be put at risk in order to catch a fish. I don’t trust you people.” This comment received applause from the people at the meeting.

Vehicles on beaches were discussed. The Working Group states in no way are they trying to stop vehicles on beaches. This is despite their documents stating that they want to manage the impact of visitors to the coast.

Ken Catt said “In Waitakere all the community groups are saying, we want you to do this (form a Marine Park). In the newspaper yesterday (8th May 03) it said ‘ recreational fishermen have not been advised of the proposal. When the Working Group was established Bernie Ward of the Auckland Recreational Fishers Association (ARFA) was nominated to represent their interests. Bernie distributed information to every fishing club he could find. A major meeting was held at the Manukau Cruising Club, all the fishing clubs were invited, a substantial amount of clubs didn’t turn up. At the club there was general support for this concept, but objections to the possibility of a marine reserve.

Now we’ve got this group that has appeared called option4 who have stated ARFA doesn’t represent fishermen and they had no knowledge of this project whatsoever. Trish Rea of option4 has been on our mailing list for 18 months. She has had five copies of the discussion document and she hasn’t bothered to make one comment or one statement on that discussion document. That’s her choice, but she cannot expect for us to believe that no-one knew anything about it.”

option4 response
Trish Rea from option4 has not received any information from the West Coast Working Group in 18 months. No discussion documents were received or information supplied. The first discussion document arrived on 11th April 2003. Ken Catt later admitted he had made a mistake with his mailing list and Trish Rea had been omitted from the list.

The point was raised regarding the small number of brochures available to the local community. One local had copied off 280 brochure documents from the Forest and Bird website to distribute to local shops. The questionnaire is included in the brochure.

Submission Extension
A motion was put to the meeting ‘that we have a six month extension to the submission date due to the non-consultative process which has been taken to date’. This motion was seconded and passed unanimously by the audience.

Follow Up
On Wednesday 14th May 2003 we were advised by Ken Catt the submission period had been extended by one month to 30 June 2003. This is despite an overwhelming vote at the public meeting at Waitakere City Council chambers (Monday 12th May 03) to extend the deadline for six months. David Cunliffe, MP, has assured us on 15th May 03 the six-month extension will apply to this proposal.

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