Whangamata Marina Occupation Press Releases

Press release posted on the Scoop website: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK0807/S00024.htm 

Spotlight on the Whangamata Marina
Wednesday, 2 July 2008, 1:09 pm
Press Release: Whangamata Marina protestors

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

Spotlight on the Whangamata Marina

The 1st July 2008, was supposed to mark the formal commencement of the construction of the 17 million dollar marina at Whangamata. The only people onsite today were about 30 Hauraki Maori and community members setting up camp to raise government and public awareness about the inadequacies of the marina proposal. Ms Pauline Clarkin, one of the spokespersons for the protesters had this to say about the Marina Society’s no-show:

“The Marina Society did not turn up to the site because they still don’t have all the consents they need to start construction of the Whangamata Marina.”

Hauraki Maori felt it important to raise awareness about the changes to the marina development over recent months that the community had not been privy to because they were all processed on a non-notified basis. Ms Clarkin states:

“In the last 5 months there have been several changes to the marina proposal. There has been a significant reduction of the rock lining of the marina channel; the removal of a 40metre breakwater from the marina design and consent to remove indigenous vegetation from the coastal marine area something that was never sought or consented to in the original decision.”

Nathan Kennedy, another spokesperson at the site added:

“Before the Marina Society could do anything, they also needed to apply to obtain critical consents that were missing from the original decision such as the erection of a 50m breakwater; the occupation and use of 4 hectares of space in the coastal marine area for the marina basin. All of these very significant omissions were processed on a non-notified basis by Environment Waikato in June 2008”

Mr Kennedy goes on to say:

“We have recently heard that the Marina Society has also been advised by the Thames Coromandel District Council that the changes they seek to the land based aspects of the marina development are significant enough to require a variation or even replacement of the consents originally granted and that these changes are such that public notification is likely. On top of this the Marina Society has yet to obtain consents for their fuel facilities and landowner consents and lease arrangements for both the land and the coastal marine area are not yet in place”

Mr Paul Shanks, a local community member who was supporting the protest and push to raise awareness said:

“Before the Marina Society can start work on the reclamation they have to demonstrate to Environment Waikato that they have the funds to complete the job something they have yet to achieve. Given that they have not even released their prospectus yet I would hazard a guess that reclamation works won’t start any time soon either.”

Ms Clarkin was confident that she spoke for everyone involved in the decade long process when she said;

“It’s now got to a stage where it is impossible for us to know whether the marina proposal we have today is anything like the marina proposal originally granted. This is due to the piecemeal way that local Councils have processed the changes to date, to the extent that we doubt their ability to be removed from the process..”

Nathan Kennedy concluded;

“In the past the Whangamata Marina Society has been quick to blame Maori for the delays in getting the consents they required to construct the Whangamata Marina thus deflecting the spotlight from the significant inadequacies of their proposal. All of the recent and proposed changes to the design and scale of the marina development are now bringing these inadequacies into sharp relief. We want the government, through the Minister for the Environment, to put the spotlight on the Whangamata Marina development and the way that local Councils have made decisions about the changes over the last 5 months ”

ENDS

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About 20 protesters pitched tents, set up barbecues, and camped at the site overnight in a low key occupation.

They have received an equal amount of toots of support and abusive yelling from passers-by.

   

The occupiers are also opposed to the relocation of endangered moko skink lizards from the site by the Department of Conservation.

 

 

 

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the occupation was about trying to protect the history and cultural values of the area.

“They’ve had an ancient saltmarsh destroyed in order to build a car park, and there’s been the destruction of habitat of several rare and threatened coastal bird species (and) the moko skink.”

Iwi say construction of the marina will threaten the natural coastline and sea life because of dredging on the river channel.

The Whangamata Marina Society says the project will continue despite the protests.

“We’d certainly resist any attempts to stop it,” society president Mick Kelly told the Waikato Times last week.

The moko skink, classified as “sparse” by the Conservation Society, were found just a month before excavations were due to start on the marina site.

The work follows a 14-year campaign by marina backers which involved extensive legal action.

It is understood that work on the marina was due to begin yesterday but so far no developing equipment or workers have turned up.

– With NZPA 

 

2 July 2008 – The Department of Conservation (DOC) is working closely with iwi, the local council and the Whangamata Marina Society to protect Moko skinks at the planned development site of the Whangamata Marina, Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick said today.

“DOC is working constructively with iwi to identify the best solution to ensure the long-term protection of this native lizard population,” Steve Chadwick said.

The skinks were found during a survey in February and were removed to safety under a DOC special permit. DOC Waikato approved the emergency translocation as work on the development was due to begin.

“The Waikato Conservator approved the translocation after consultation with Hauraki iwi and the North Island Skink Recovery Group. Despite best intentions, I regret that not all iwi with interests in the issue were initially consulted according to normal protocol.

“As soon as DOC became aware of these concerns, the collection of skinks was halted and I am satisfied that iwi have now been brought into the process.”

The skinks were captured by Marina Society ecological consultants, under DOC supervision. “Thirty-seven skinks were successfully recovered within four days, including 21 females, 11 males and 5 juveniles. Arrangements were made for the skinks to be held locally over winter, allowing time for the department to find possible safe release sites in spring and early summer.

“DOC will do everything it can to find a safe haven for the skinks, as close to their present site as possible, although the most likely place would be an off-shore island.”

Although Moko skinks are categorised as sparse, they are widespread, with at least five mainland populations and around 33 secure populations on offshore islands.

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Who was consulting with Hauraki Maori? Why did Hauraki Maori  not know about the consultation? Who was consulting Steve Chadwick? Who told Steve Chadwick that the Skinks had only just been found in February?

This page will be updated soon…

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