04, Dec, 2009

Reserves and other Lands Disposal Bill - Opua Esplanade Reserve

Category: Bay of Islands Coastal Watchdog

Bay of Islands Coastal Watchdog INC (BOICW) is concerned about public understanding of the complex issues following television, radio, print and online media reporting in relation to the above matter.

Nothing about this 14 year old, controversial saga is as straight forward as it seem at first sight. This matter has been complicated with every application over the years because of the applicant's refusal to take no for an answer. This has caused the expense to rate- and taxpayers Mr Carter is now alerting to. The question that needs to be asked is "who caused these exorbitant expenses?".

The parliamentary committee has been acting on information supplied by the person benefiting from this process and now parliament is making a decision based on that without hearing other submissions. The committee did, however, have detailed input and information from the officials reporting to it, including a document confirming that there was no issue regarding easements for the slipway for moving boats across the reserve.

Contrary to what the Hon John Carter has stated, the matter is not about a slipway. The slipway is and has never been at issue. No legislation is required to permit the boatyard owner to move boats across the esplanade reserve. But he wants to expand the business onto the reserve and occupy parts of it. That is the controversial issue.

The proposed clauses of the ROLD bill are for the purpose of over-riding the Reserves Act 1977 so that the boatyard business can expand onto the reserve land.

Governmental officials have advised the select committee, in three separate reports, not to include those clauses in the bill for a number of good reasons. One of the reasons is that it would set a precedent for future bills. But perhaps more important is that it would override all Parliamentary procedure and convention about including in a Public Bill matters relating to and effecting one specified private person. John Carter's claim, as quoted in the NZ Herald article of Wednesday, 2 December, that the Committee received some advice that “wasn’t quite right” is not supported by a perusal of the reports to the Committee.

In our view, Mr Carter has added insult to the injury by misleading the public about the intent and purpose of those clauses. The amendments of the ROLD bill are set out to meet the perceived needs of a private individual which cannot be met by existing law.

Furthermore Mr Carter's quoted comment (03/12/2009, stuff.co.nz) labeling "Mr Schmuck's opponents pedantic" is offensive. We contest this statement and as one example of non-pedantic opposition, we wish to point the public to a statement/letter from Te Runanga O Taumarere Ki Rakaumangamanga to members of parliament raising many of the concerns submitted in opposition over the years.

We attach a pdf document with the following pages:

  • Page 1 - permission to first owner to construct a boat yard and slipway for the purpose of boat building - 1966
  • Page 2 - Council minutes 1976, consent for the slipway to cross unformed road and conditions - note, it is only to move boats across the then unformed road. These were the conditions when the yard was purchased by the current owner. Does not include working on the unformed road.
  • Page 3 - DoC grants easement in 2000. This easement would grant the existing rights in the more permanent form of an easement.
  • Page 4 - DoC's current position as supplied to Primary Production Committee.

    Again, it excludes working on the reserve, it includes to move boats across the reserve.

This clearly shows that moving boats across the reserve from and to the boat yard is not the problem. It also illustrates that one-sided information does not tell the story.

No one has yet asked or explained why this item was inserted into the ROLD bill by stealth, away from public scrutiny, 5 months after the first reading.

Presently, the most serious issue is the inclusion of proposed amendments in a Public Bill for the purpose of serving the wishes and interests of one private individual – contrary to Parliamentary practice and procedure.

The subject matter of those clauses requiring special legislation for the benefit of one private individual is affecting the integrity and philosophy of the Reserves Act 1977 and the future of esplanade reserves.

A n other issue is veracity of the subsequent information provided to the media not by the Minister in charge of the Bill or by the Chairman of the Select Committee that reported the amended Bill back to the House, but by a mere member of that Committee who claims that he did not even vote on the amendments. We await clarification from the Minister and/or the Chairman of the Select Committee.

Mr Carter has now conceded that “It has been agreed it needs to be a general clause to apply to anybody” (TV3 News) and it therefore appears that 'Opua esplanade reserve land ' provisions will be removed from the Bill. However, assurances to that effect must come from the Minister of LINZ himself and we await confirmation from him.

Because of its complexity and controversy, and because it is a government bill, this issue should not be included in a Reserves and other Lands Disposal Bill. It should be settled in court, just like any other property dispute. It is as simple as that.

Maiki Marks
Bay of Islands Coastal Watchdog INC
Ph 09 402 7933 - e-mail will-mark@live.com