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Home arrow Articles by Topic arrow Environmental Planning arrow Sioux Campbell's editorial
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Articles - Environmental Planning
Written by Sioux Campbell, TCR&R Focus   
Friday, 07 April 2006
April edition

Tena tatou katoa and welcome to the April (dare I say it autumnal!) edition. The end of daylight savings brings an inevitable change of season and although the lovely light mornings are a bonus—it sure gets dark fast at the other end. That week of stormy weather and huge seas earlier on last month was a strong reminder of the power of the elements!

The weather wasn't the only thing that was stormy in March. Various communities, including ours, have been in a public furore over the district council's landscape review exercise. It may or may not be comforting for people to know that similar exercises, albeit under different titles, have been or are being undertaken all over New Zealand as variations to or reviews of district plans. These have inevitably ended up in the Environment Court as landowners (on all sides of the issue) and various management agencies are unable to come to agreements over what should or should not be protected and why restrictions may need to be imposed.

One of the main messages which seems to have been lost is the wider context of the review. I think it's a pity councils are using "the Environment Court has ordered us" line so strongly. The court's desires are only the outcome of a much bigger picture which commits the Government to a 10 year course of action to halt the decline of NZ's biodiversity. Scientific evidence clearly shows we have lost and are continuing to lose our environmental assets frighteningly fast. On a world scale NZ's rate of loss is particularly severe—and it's not going to slow down unless all the management agencies we have—and ourselves—make a combined effort. Yes, the RMA and Local Government Amendment Act compel councils to commit to that effort but everyone has a responsibility, courtesy the Biodiversity Strategy, to help make it happen. At this time the council is trying to find some ways to do that, even if its communication plan for the review hasn't been particularly clear. Our input needs to be constructive, not merely critical, to make progress and seek appropriate solutions.

I can only conclude that those who say the landscape on the coast hasn't changed must live in a different community to me. In the 11 months we've lived here houses have sprung up below us, breaking the lowland view we used to have of the Ngunguru mangroves. The bush-clad hillsides behind Te Maika Rd have been cleared for subdivision. Houses now dominate the view of the sea we used to enjoy atop the hill between Ngunguru and Tutukaka. I can accept that doesn't matter to some people but it is certainly an indicator of change.

I don't have a stake in this—the council isn't one of my clients and I don't own land here, although I am a landowner elsewhere in NZ. We all however have a stake in the environment we live in and we depend upon its health for our own wellbeing as well as our economy. I commend a read of the NZ Biodiversity Strategy and various related documents for more info on all of this—it's easy to understand and there's lots to be learned—try or the council and local government websites as well (, and And make sure you fill out the survey coming with this edition [of TCR&R Focus]!
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