Whangamata, where did it all go wrong?

in 1997 the Department Of Conservation  had lodged a strong appeal against the Marina with The Waikato Regional Council, and fully intended carrying the appeal to the Environment Court.  Nick Smith as Minister of Conservation took a trip to WHangamata and met with the Marina Society, He DID NOT meet with Maori, or any other opponents.

(For this article and an internal DOC memo citing Nick Smith giving DOC a clear direction to withdraw their appeal as a download, CLICK HERE.. )

Nick and-wms


There weren’t any assurances when conservation minister Nick Smith visited Whangamata’s proposed marina site last Friday.

But he did say he would be happy if a reasonable solution could be found without having to go to a court hearing.

Dr Smith met with members of the Whangamata Marina Society at the site of the proposed marina during his first visit to the Coromandel Peninsula.


He told marina society president Mick Kelly and others that the Department of Conservation’s  



Role was not one of making decisions, but making sure that the decisions that were made were done so with proper forethought. “Our primary responsibility is to take care of the bees and the birds.”

     He explained   how  in past   years   many  mistakes  had been made with  various developments   which  had  created major       Environmental difficulties further down the track, mainly because of a lack of   forethought  in theplanning stage.

“Even in the last 10 years some marina developers have made some mistakes and we are having to deal with those now.”

Mick Kelly explained that the society’s intention was not to ruin anything.

“we live here because we love the harbour.” He said.

“We don’t want to mess it up.”

And he explained the society


was  a community based organisation, not a high flying property developer looking for financial gain.

Dr Smith responded to that by pointing out that ownership was not the issue, as anybody is capable of making mistakes.

“Our main interest is the impact on the environment, not who is behind the development,”

He said.

“I appreciate that you are trying to do it right, but we have a responsibility to look after the environment.”

“If we can with good will avoid the legal fraternity and come to a solution than I am more than happy.”


After visiting the Marina Society Nick Smith then gave the manager of the DOC Waikato Conservancy a clear direction that a “settlement” should be negotiated with the Marina Society and the appeal should be withdrawn.

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