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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Press release from the Friends of Maungawhau

This week will see an historic occasion with the passing of the Maunga Bill  [ Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Bill ]. It also comes in the year of the World Parks Congress which is examining the state of the world’s protected areas or parks.
This legislation establishes the Maunga Authority to govern selected volcanic cones and landscape of Auckland. It also partly addresses long held grievances of the Iwi of Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. The Friends of Maungawhau have supported the legislation which has the added advantage for improved governance and management of these parks of world heritage status. The volcanic cones have been neglected and run down for many decades and it is hoped this is a start of a new way of caring for our heritage parks such as Maungawhau. As Paul Majurey,  [the chair of the Tamaki Collective and an Iwi representative on the new Authority] said at the select committee hearings – “it will not be business as usual”

It is good to celebrate the new governance, however a “watchful eye” is needed for there will be many challenges. These include dealing with the pressure of use; delayed maintenance, pests and weeds and different management philosophies - all of which will rest on rate payers. In some ways the Crown has passed the financial buck onto Aucklanders.
The success of the new Maunga Authority will rest on the funding it gets without robbing other parks like the successful regional parks of Auckland. The Friends of Maungawhau will be advocating for consultation and adequate  funding for all these conservation parks in the 10 year financial  plan of Auckland.

Friends of Maungawhau 10 main advocacy positions.
[ S = potential savings in operational costs/ income generation]

1        Remove motorised vehicles from the summits of maunga and provide appropriate access for disabled and elderly visitors and park operations.  S

2        Require all commercial tourism and other for-private profit operators to pay a concession fee. S

3        Develop a co-management model founded on professional park rangers supported by contractors and an engaged community of volunteers.

4        Encourage volunteer groups on all the maunga  S

5        Survey boundaries and develop programmes on all maunga to help stop visual intrusion from development and “bio-trespass” [from weeds and pests]
E.g. Recently I enquired about a private development on Clive Rd that was suspected of encroaching on Maungawhau – a public reserve under control of the Council. The planning officer could not confirm that a boundary survey was a resource consent requirement and told me “to survey the boundary ourselves if we were that concerned”. Old attitudes and lack of importance towards conservation reserves still dominates the Council so we welcome the new approach and new governance of the maunga.

6        Develop an integrated management approach of all park land adjoining the maunga and all assets of the maunga. E.g. At present they are divided between the Maunga Authority, Local Board and Auckland Council etc.  S
7       Make operational plans more accessible and establish a mechanism like the former Maungawhau Stakeholders Group to enable designated volunteer organisations to be informed and consulted by  the Maunga Authority on policies and plans.

8      Require Watercare to take greater responsibility for the vegetation management on all maunga. S  E.g. See the situation of the restored reservoir on Maungawhau

9       Ensure the funding of the maunga and Maunga Authority do not take funds away from the Regional Parks and other conservation and informal parks. E.g. See AGM report from Friends of Maungawhau and  Mike Lee’s presentation at the Friends of Regional Parks AGM.

10     Examine the inefficiencies and mistakes in projects and operations so they are not repeated and ensure better use is made of public funds.  E.g. the past  Microlaena / kikuyu project, returfing of archaeological sites, track work, the electric shuttles  and the ban on planting even though funding allocated for conservation planting.  S