Media about the marina

On the 21st of November 2009 a triumphant John Key flies into Whangamata in an airforce helicopter to open the new Marina while marina developer president Mick Kelly is literally salivating at the mouth regarding Real estate profits as seen in this TV3 news clip :

The question is, who profits from this reserve land being turned into a high density housing area?

Unfortunately in this day and age your common ordinary journalist, with deadlines to meet while following up a story, will simply go to the organisation in question, receive the carefully worded press release, and recite it near verbatim, for the masses.

It is estimated that as much as 80% of what we consider news, to be generated by Public Relations consultants. Pure investigative journalism is all but dead and buried, apart from the odd ember left glowing on the internet…

For developers in cases like Whangamata and Whitianga, the end game is to generate so much P R spin that the opponents ability to be heard in the media is effectivley drowned out.  The wider public then fail to access the other side of the argument, from that, the public  psyche is gently shifted toward the generated spin.

For the marina Society, it is important to be perceived clearly as in the victim box, not in the culprit box.  Maori, surfers, environmentalists, and even the small boat users (whose ability to now  launch their small boats is severely restricted) are touted as vexatious, litigious troublemakers. While the Marina Society, as this Close Up interview demonstrates, portray themselves not as property developers,  but just a bunch of local boaties wanting a place to park their boats.

While some may be cynical of my previous statements, I can only recommend that you read on, With regard to media manipulation, a good place to start would be Nicky Hager’s Blog, so as to arm yourself with the tools necessary to form an independent line of inquiry regarding media, and spoon fed psycho babble.

The sophistication welded into many media releases is made to look like news. From that our OPINION is moulded by those carefully crafting what appears to us as a news story. As far as The Whangamata Marina saga goes, this story has been crafted by some of the best in the land.

Enter Patricia Herbert, Press secretary to Michael Cullen, the previous Minster of Finance.
Herbert’s involvement first came to light in the Whangamata Marina Society’s 2007 Presidents report to the AGM Where President Mick Kelly basks in the glory of David Benson-Pope overturning Chris Carter’s Veto. To quote from page 2 of that report

“A large part of our success was due to the favourable treatment we received from the media. It was clear early on that we had won in the important “Court of Public Opinion”, and that increased the pressure on the Government. Much of this favourable treatment is due to advice and help from another of Mai Chen’s team Dr Patricia Herbert. Patricia use to be Michael Cullen’s Press Secretary, and she knows the system inside out.”

Herbert’s’ profile, from her current place of Employment, Chapman Tripp;
“Patricia combines her expertise in government and media relations to write effective communications for our clients. Patricia is a former journalist. Her experience includes three years as a government relations and media consultant, six years as Senior Press Secretary to the former Minister of Finance, four years as Economics Editor at the New Zealand Herald, and 14 years at the parliamentary press gallery.’

Herbert has also produced many releases for the Overseas Investment Office, but that is another side to the Whangamata story, stay tuned for that one…

 The Opponents of the Marina have faced years of bad press and vitriolic opinion (similar to that thrown at Sandra Lee for what we have lost just 40km up the coast at Whitianga) and not just from the Herald, take this article from the Waikato Times as a prime example.

Why does the Times post it as an editorial without an Author? Whose view does it represent? This is shocking etiquette for a newspaper, to put forward such biased opinion without signing a name to it. that article, is but one of many, that was written to form your opinion about the marina. 

The media formula for Whangamata, is the same as that for Whitianga.  ethical journalism is pushed aside by a well financed P R machine. 

Contrary to popular belief The National Party were the first to politicise the Whangamata Marina Project with Nick Smith’s Involvement in 1998, the National Party’s formidable spin machine would have you believe it was Chris Carter in 2006, when he followed correct legislative procedure, Chris listened to all sides of the debate, not just the Marina Society, as Nick Smith had done in 1997.

The Court did not demand Chris Carter to overturn his decision, just to reconsider it. Carter handed the review over to David Benson – Pope The Environment Minister, in the interests of transparency.  Carter was stunned by Benson-Pope’s decision to overturn the veto, and tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister, Which was refused.

Nick Smith’s political interference via the removal of DoC in 1998 was a knockout blow for the opposition. Without the scientific leverage or endorsement of the Area’s intrinsic environmental value from DoC, it would just be a matter of time to realize their goal. From that point on the DoC Waikato Conservator was forced to negotiate – accept the princely sum of  $40,000 for turning the wetland into a car park  / High density housing area, and the displacement and extermination of several rare species, not to mention the other abundant wildlife, affected throughout the wider estuary.

By directing the Waikato Conservator to mitigate favourably with the marina society, Nick Smith entered at the beginning of the legal process, without transparency or participation with the general public.


The National party have long touted the Whangamata case as being:

thoroughly and exhaustively tested through a fourteen year legal process.

This mantra echos resoundly through media publications to this day.Yet the drawing out of legal process is a technique favoured by developers with deep pockets  as a method of bleeding dry the appellants to a project. This point is illustrated by the The New Zealand Māori Law Society Inc in a submission (para 5.4 ) to simplifying the RMA.  When this method is applied, combined with attacks on character or diminishing ones credentials, such as done in the case of the missing skinks , then there is a good chance the developer will have costs awarded in their favour. It is the community groups that are watching their pennies.






To thoroughly and exhaustively test a case, all parties must be allowed to speak, interference by Nick Smith negated any chance of true justice being delivered.

Without justice, you are simply left with law, and like P R, money can buy that too.


After Chris Carter’s Veto in 2006, Nick Smith supported the marina society and with the help of Mai Chen of Chen and Palmer, drafted a private members bill ; Resource Management (Restricted Coastal Activities)  to remove the ministers right of veto in the Coastal Marine Area. 

 The Bill was narrowly defeated;
 Ayes 60: New Zealand National 48; New Zealand First 7; United Future 3; ACT New Zealand 2.
Noes 60 : New Zealand Labour 50; Green Party 6; Māori Party 3; Progressive 1.
Motion not agreed to.

in 2009 Nick Smith is finally having his day with removing the ministers right of veto in the coastal marine area with his Resource Management ( Simplifying and Streamlining ) Amendment Bill. 

Oh the irony!

The Green party are now lobbying through the select committee process for the Minister to at least have this right of intervention at the beginning of the process, exactly what Smith had originally done! Except now perhaps, the intervention may just be… transparent? After all this, Nick Smith and the National Party promote Whangamata as one of the four main reasons for Simplifying and Streamlining the RMA, as this Article on the front page of the DomPost (written soon after coming to power) illustrates.

and now with proposals to further libralise the 2005 Overseas Investment Act, we will be able to fast track marina developments on The North Island’s sunshine coast, this of course will help all those poor little rich americans who want to make a fast buck when they come here and invest in large strips of coastal property, like they have done at Whangamata…

I could remark on Whangamata’s Local paper, The Coastal News, which is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the marina developers, but why even bother.


How will this delicate terminal lobe of the bar be affected by the dredging of 6,700 cu per annum to keep the marina channel open?

How will this delicate terminal lobe of the bar be affected by the dredging of 6,700 cu meters per annum to keep the marina channel open?

The clip below features A radio interview with Mick Kelly, President of the Marina Society, describing how it would be very hard to point the finger at the society if any thing did go wrong with the World Famous Whangamata Bar. what ever happened to the Resource Management Act’s Precautionary Principle? Judge Bollard? It is obvious that the New Zealand surfing public need to take control of their own resources, not left to the whim of property speculators like those that go under the guise of a non for profit incorporated society like the Marina speculators.

This youtube channel,  click here also has videos of the wetland that is being turned into a car park, but more importantly for the speculators, opening access to land now classified as a high density housing area .

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