The Minister of Conservation, Kiritapu Allan, promised at a full public meeting in Ostend last Thursday to personally hold fortnightly meetings with the Waiheke community. Exactly who will be part of the Zoom meetings is yet to be determined.
The minister’s pledge came towards the end of the meeting, during which members of the Waiheke community laid out their years of anger, hurt and frustration with the Department of Conservation’s inaction over the Kennedy Point Marina and destruction of kororā/little penguin, nests at the construction site.
The minister fronted up to the community, flanked by aides and DoC staff, after a series of parliamentary questions from Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick had revealed the minister had been incorrectly informed that there were no active burrows on the Kennedy Point breakwater. It has also been revealed in recent weeks that although Auckland Council informed DoC of the 2016 application for resource consent for the marina project, DoC did not make a submission. However, a DoC technical advisor was involved with the original penguin management plan that was re-written last year after being highly criticised by interest groups.
Among the community members who shared their experiences and questions with the minister was Bianca Ranson of Mauri o te Moana and Protect Pūtiki who has been involved in a mātauranga Māori study of the wildlife of Pūtiki Bay. “We’ve been waiting 442 days for you to arrive,” Ranson said. “How did the Department of Conservation do our community so wrong that we end up here 14 months after construction began? We hope that you have some answers for us.” • Erin Johnson
Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!