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Access to beach still under threat



An ongoing ‘David versus Goliath’ battle for access to Te Arai has again made its way back to Auckland Council.

Members of community watch group, SAVE Te Arai (STA) presented a petition holding 6100 signatures demanding the withdrawal of non-notified decisions and reversal of actions that the council undertook with developers allegedly without due process and diligence, in regards to Te Arai Beach’s Pacific Road access.

The documents were given to the Regulations Review Committee, who ensure delegated law-making powers are being used appropriately, at a meeting on February 9.

Chairperson for STA, Aaron McConchie, says public access to the beach is under threat due to the private development being carried out by Queenstown developers Darby Partners, acting for US billionaire Ric Kayne.

“Auckland Council’s disregard of local opposition and special favouring for private overseas investors’ interests over the publics, has to stop,” he says. “Making it almost impossible for regular beach users to get to one of New Zealand’s most iconic surf and fishing beaches so that foreign land owners can keep the beach for themselves is not acceptable.”

The petition also asks the council to reverse previously non-notified decisions that directly influence not only public access but also Te Arai’s 216 hectares of public reserve as well as making Pacific Road, which is currently a public access easement, into a public road.

The public reserve was vested from private land as part of a commercial deal with Auckland Council to reduce the developer contributions required when the balance of the land was sub-divided into coastal living sites. Council had the ability to appoint

Pacific Road as a public road back in 2014 but was reluctant to do so emphasising cost as a factor, McConchie says.

“The road is already there and the rates from the 47 ultra-luxury house lots… would more than offset the maintenance costs.”

The housing sites are part of a wider exclusive, resort-style development spearheaded by Kayne and Darby Partners, marketed extensively overseas with a focus on American investment and is connected to Tara Iti golf course, also owned by Kayne.

Public outcry has dogged the controversial development which also includes approximately 600 hectares, an 18 hole golf course and airstrip. Support for saving the popular surf beach extends nationwide.

“The signatures on the petition not only represent Mangawhai locals but Aucklanders and a broad distribution of New Zealanders,” McConchie says. “The developers have shown very little respect for the community. At every stage they have tried to reduce the level of access the public has to the beach. Making Pacific Road a public road secures this access and ensures that it will be maintained for all locals and visitors to the area in perpetuity”.

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