Proposal to turn Shelly Bay into national heritage park

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A new development proposal for Shelly Bay has been endorsed by Mau Whenua – a group of Taranaki Whānui members.

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Previously proposed housing development at Shelly Bay. Photo: RNZ /SUPPLIED

The proposal is to turn the bay and the entire tip of the Miramar Peninsula into the Whataitai National Heritage Park, complete with a cultural centre, forest and seaside walks, an aquarium, and a sculpture park.

It is an idea which has been devised by the Motukairangi Design Group.

In a spread in the Wellington Region’s Dominion Post over the weekend, the Design Group said it was the ‘the alternative we’ve all been waiting for’.

The proposal takes inspiration from the UK’s Eden Project and Singapore Bay Gardens. It is also aligned with the city council’s 2040 plan for an eco-city.

But the land is currently set to be the location for a housing development. While it has been given a resource consent by the council, there are still significant stumbling blocks ahead.

“The Motukairangi Design Group proposed Alternative Vision offers some alignment with parts of a Tangata Whenua vision for their whenua,” Mau Whenua chair Hirini Jenkins-Mepham said.

“Iwi land on the peninsula was never intended to be used for luxury, high priced, high density, elite privately owned housing. The whenua and the harbour have huge cultural and heritage significance for iwi members, and we look forward to ongoing kaitiakitanga of our harbour.”

What are the stumbling blocks to the existing development?

The bay, located on Wellington’s Miramar Peninsula, is currently the location of an approved housing development, headed by Ian Cassels of The Wellington Company.

However, there are currently two appeals at the High Court which are due to be heard in the next six months. The first, being brought against Wellington City Council, disputes the granting of the resource consent.

The second is an appeal against the original sale of iwi land by the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust to Cassels.

A report from the Māori Land Court in August found thousands of members did not get a say in the sale of the land, due to failings of the iwi membership system.

The original sale and lease of land, agreed to by Council in 2017, is also coming back for a second vote.

In an update given on 4 August, “recommendations will be brought for consideration to Councillors in October 2020, that will include the key commercial terms and approaches to engagement on the road”.

Councillor Malcolm Sparrow has already expressed concern about carrying on with the discussion while much remains in the air.

Writing on his Facebook page, Sparrow said: “There are two court cases, where at the very least, the outcome of each, may have a bearing on councillors making a robust decision.

“I believe the councillors should not have to make the sale and lease decision, on Shelly Bay, until we have all the relevant information.”

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