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Home arrow Events arrow 2014 Secretary's Report for AGM
2014 Secretary's Report for AGM PDF Print
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Action - Events
Written by Cameron McInnes, NSaPS Inc Secretary/Acting Chairman   
Saturday, 13 September 2014

Presented by NSaPS Inc Secretary/Acting Chairman Cameron McInnes

Intro

As I have stated before, The NSPS Executive Committee Chair is filled by rotation, This doesn't necessarily have to be the way that we continue to operate and if there was any interest from anyone within the community to fill this position it would be worth having somebody to help drive the society.

As it is, it falls to me as Secretary and acting Chairman to brief the AGM on the current year's activity and to be honest; it hasn't been an easy year for the Executive Committee.

There is a lot of frustration from within the coastal communities at the lack of progress towards any form of management on the public owned land on the spit, frustration which is often vented at the committee members, and whilst this hasn't escalated into the molotov cocktail end of the spectrum, the tone in people's feedback to the committee has definitely changed.

Because of the lack of visible movement, there is also a perception that the Society is in stasis; however this just isn't true. The Executive Committee (along with Jim and Sophie) have put in literally hundreds of volunteer hours in the last year and I would like to take this chance to commend them for their consistency and diligence.

So what have we been doing?

Mandate

NSaPS is still operating under the mandate that we have 2 main objectives as a society.

  1. The implementation of a management strategy for the areas of the spit in public ownership in conjunction with DOC and Tangata whenua
  2. The protection of the remainder of the sandspit and Whakairiora Mountain from inappropriate development

Acquisition

As we have stated at previous AGMs, all resource consents held by Todd Property Group lapsed in 2012. Any future activity will have to gain new resource consents and NSaPS are a recognised stakeholder with WDC and as such must be notified of resource consent applications in these areas. The potential for this land to be developed is still very real, and another reason why the Society must remain not just functional but vigilant.

At last year's AGM, the acquisition of the balance of the sandspit and the mountain was discussed, and the Exec looked at strategies for doing so. Different options were put forward including fundraising and sponsorship to buy it and also another landswap by the Government. It was decided that the time wasn't right to fundraise the required funds and that sponsorship may well just exchange the problem. The best option would be for the Government to purchase or swap land for the mountain.

To that end the Society invited MP Hon. Phil Heatley to visit the spit and try to persuade him to persuade the Government to purchase the balance of the associated land.

This was a very positive meeting, Mr Heatley was accompanied by 2 members of the exec to the spit, the areas in public ownership were pointed out as well as the areas that the Society is advocating for inclusion to the public estate.

Mr Heatley was very supportive, the message that we took away from that meeting was that 3 years ago, there would have been no way but now there was the possibility that a second land swap could happen. He suggested that the if the incumbent Government was reinstated then the next step would be to get the Minister of Conservation Hon. Dr Nick Smith up for a visit and to get him to champion our cause, election year promises perhaps but a positive sign no less.

The other condition being that we need to be seen as a community to be looking after the huge chunk of land that the government has already given us.

Which leads to the second mandate of the Society, looking after the areas already in public ownership.

Management

This just seems to be impossible to get off the ground, I have not spoken to a single individual who is not supportive of reducing the weeds and protecting the wildlife on the spit and yet, as soon as any management plans rise above ground level and into officialdom, plans are shelved.

This culminated for me last month with the rejection of an application for funding for weed eradication, planting of natives and a pest animal control program. The Society aimed high, asking for $173 000 over three years. The DOC panel didn't even bat an eyelid at the figure, but the application was rejected on the basis that we are "a community divided".

I have found this comment puzzling and a bit insulting really, after all this is the same community that was united and motivated enough to kick up so much of a stink about development on the spit that the Government stepped in to acquire it.

I have met with DOC and they were unable (or unwilling) to elaborate on this comment and unfortunately DOC have declined to send a representative to address the AGM for the second year in a row which is disappointing.

I spend a lot of time within this community, the society has several public events every year, the Matapouri gala, The Ngunguru fair and the sandspit beach walk, we receive a lot of feedback on people's hopes and visions of what they would like the sandspit to be for future generations. This feedback is unanimous in calling for the sandspit to remain a remote, spiritual wilderness area, with the only intervention being the removal of the pests so that the native biodiversity can flourish.

And so this is what the Society is continuing to push for, no footbridges or fences, no public road access, no information kiosks. And as slow and frustrating the process is, the Society is committed to developing a management plan in conjunction with DOC and tangata whenua.

This is not a 'community divided' everyone wants what is best for the sandspit but as I said last year, if we are to have a meaningful and sustainable long term management plan for this special place, we need to start as we mean to continue, with everyone on board.

This is the message that we give to every chainsaw wielding local who offers their help, patience and respect. We know that it's frustrating but the conversation is very much alive and we will get there.

What is next?

  • We will continue to support DOC and tangata whenua and to keep the community aware of what is happening and enthusiastic about future restoration/conservation work that can be done on the spit.
  • We will continue to have a presence at public events like the Gala and the Fair
  • We will continue to be vigilant for development plans on the remainder of the spit and to urge for the greatest levels of protection for all of the associated areas of the sandspit
  • The Sandspit walk was so popular that we will do it again, perhaps with the inclusion of a guest speaker or presentation as an annual event.
  • We will continue to push for acquisition of the balance of the sandspit land by the government

Finally I wish to thank all of you here today, not just for braving this miserable weather but for your continued support, it can be hard to maintain enthusiasm and our membership has fallen this year but we need to keep the society functional and ready for action at any time and it is you guys that keep that possible.

Thank you.


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