Puketutu Island a people’s playground

Press Release – Watercare Services

Successful negotiatons between Waikato-Tainui, local iwi, Watercare Services Limited and the Kelliher Charitable Trust have resulted in an agreement to develop Puketutu Island as a public open space.
29 October 2010
Puketutu Island a people’s playground

Successful negotiatons between Waikato-Tainui, local iwi, Watercare Services Limited and the Kelliher Charitable Trust have resulted in an agreement to develop Puketutu Island as a public open space.

The proposal, which still needs the approval of the Environment Court, will see the quarry area of the island rehabilitated with clean fill and treated biosolids from the adjacent Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant to create a new regional park.

“We have all had a vision for the island as being a superb park for the people of Auckland while recognising the unique Maori and European heritage of the island,” explained Graeme Hawkins, Watercare’s chairman. “To develop a marae precinct and cultural centre which will be publicly accessible is truly exciting and confirms the growing relationship between Watercare and local iwi”.

Mr Hawkins said it was a willingness to resolve existing impasses that lead to a consultation process involving leaders from Waikato-Tainui, Makaurau and Te Kawerau accepting that all parties could benefit. The three Maori organisations will be equal partners in the venture.

“For Watercare there is a commercial reward. Without the availability of Puketutu the company would have to truck biosolids to landfills a considerable distance from the plant involving higher costs, safety issues and inconvenience to neighbours. While the $27 million purchase price for the island lease plus the $2.00 a tonne levy is a considerable investment, there is a saving of up to $22 million in real terms over the 35 year life of the project. That saving will inevitably be reflected in future wastewater charges.”

“There is also a huge benefit for local residents who will not have to put up with up to 30 trucks a day travelling through the neighbourhood with associated nuisances of noise, dust and road damage.”

In order to ensure benefits to all parties, the agreement is quite complex. Watercare will lease the island for 55 years and the Kelliher Trust will transfer the freehold title to an Island Trust comprising six members representing Waikato-Tainui, Makaurau and Te Kawerau. A marae and associated cultural facilities will be constructed on an area specially designated for that purpose and the marae precinct will be freely accessible to the people of Auckland and other visitors to the island. Visitors will also be shown places of historical and cultural significance.

A Governance Trust, with four trustees from each of the Island Trust, Watercare and the new Auckland Council, will allocate funding for the marae construction, development of the island, scholarships for education or training, employment opportunities and provide a forum to consider issues relating to the island.

Under the agreement it is proposed that the new Auckland Council will take up a concurrent renewable lease with 999 year terms to guarantee that Puketutu Island remains available to the people of Auckland in perpetuity.

Tukoroirangi Morgan, chairman of Waikato-Tainui’s Te Arataura, praised the outcome as a victory for co-operative negotiation.

“We have always had a good relationship with Watercare but like friends we sometimes have a difference of opinion. That was the case last year when we, along with Makaurau, Te Kawerau and other Maori interests, opposed Watercare’s application to use Puketutu for treated biosolids disposal. We believed that cultural concerns were not addressed and that iwi had not been sufficiently consulted in a project that involved an island that is so precious to us.”

Mr Morgan said the recent negotiations had been conducted in a receptive environment where Maori views were considered and accepted. In particular he acknowledged the substantial and robust input from Janice Roberts, chair of Makaurau Marae, and Te Warena Taua, chair of Te Kawerau.

“There is always something very special when a project produces only winners,”he said.

Fact One: Puketutu Island was previously owned by Maori, but in 1845 the Native Chiefs of New Zealand sold it to John Thomas Jackson of Onehunga. The purchase price: five pounds and 10 blankets!

Fact Two: The new regional park on Puketutu Island will cover 197 hectares which is larger than Cornwall Park at 172 hectares.

Fact three: Public access to Puketutu Island will not be available until the agreement is complete and appropriate safety procedures are in place.


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