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Fight for Te Arai goes on


Te Arai-712Mass felling of trees and sand excavation causing a drastic transformation of landscape has been the catalyst for more outrage surrounding the controversial Te Arai development.

Concern has also been raised regarding the protection of significant cultural sites that have been uncovered by developing company Darby Partners’ sand-mining operations in the Te Arai public reserve.

Chair for environmental group Save Te Arai (STA), Aaron McConchie, says it is an ongoing, frustrating process.

“The ecology of the area has been damaged beyond recognition,” he says. “The developers are uncovering more remnants of pre-European occupation in a public reserve and they still want to push on with the excavation that the public has had no say on. And so far, the council has let them do whatever they want.”

On July 14, a member of STA stumbled upon investigations into a site of a new midden –discarded items that have a cultural and archeological significance usually identified by groupings of seashells.

“It was being investigated to ascertain the extent of the midden to see if the developers can remove more sand around it,” McConchie says. “When will the council step in and say enough is enough? The council believes it is all legal, STA believes it is not.”

Recent Facebook discussions reveal mounting concerns and disgust about the exposed earth and marred terrain Darby Partners are reaping upon the land.

However, spokesman for the developing company, David Lewis says the property has historically been a commercial forest and now Te Arai North’s joint venture with Te Uri O Hau maintains all rights and permits. Lewis says the community was alerted to the removal of the forest on May 23 and suggests they not be alarmed.

“The tree removal has had significant positive effects on removing habitat that harbours predators that predate threatened and endangered shorebirds which nest in the area,” he says.

“The benefits of this forestry removal is recognised and provided for by Plan Change 166, which requires that the entire coastal frontage of Te Arai North land and the margins of Te Arai Stream be cleared of pine trees and replanted with native vegetation. So far we have harvested thousands of pines which have been replaced with over one million native plants, with much more to come.”

McConchie says that the felling and excavation of the sand in one go is hard on the land and that it should have been done in stages to limit the impact. There is also doubt about the legitimate mining of the sand.

“Major earthworks in reserve land comes under the Reserve Management Act and Auckland Council Regional Parks Plan. There are no allowances made for the commercial removal of earth and sand for the benefit of private developers. We haven’t been provided with any evidence of consents in respect to the purpose for the legitimate removal of that amount of sand,” he says.

“The only ones to benefit out of the earthworks in the reserve are the developers to the tune of 40,000 cubic metres of free sand to fill and contour private land.”

“The tree removal has had significant positive effects on removing habitat that harbours predators…”

- David Lewis, Darby Partners spokesperson


“The ecology of the area has been damaged beyond recognition.”

- Aaron McConchie, Save Te Arai Chair

IMPACT: Harvested pines are being replaced by native plants but development opposition claims sand is being shifted without consent.
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