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Home arrow Events arrow AGM NSaPS 2008 - Chairperson's Report
AGM NSaPS 2008 - Chairperson's Report PDF Print
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Action - Events
Written by Gloria Bruni, NSaPS chairperson   
Tuesday, 02 September 2008

The report started with reflections on how talk of Council/Government and Landco negotiations for a Sandspit land swap became part of the local politics during council elections. After the election, word that the land swap idea was dead gradually filtered out to us. The text of the Chairperson's report follows:

In September we wound up the details of our TradeMe Art Auction. It was a lot of work but through it we earned $10,373.00, as well as an article in the Herald, several mentions on National Radio, plus a number of friends and allies among artists, galleries, and art buyers the length of New Zealand.

We continued the drive for public recognition through liaison with other groups and their websites [NZ Surfers, WakaAma clubs, Forest and Bird, EDS, to name a few]. Lois Williams and Radio NZ, Mike Dinsdale and other staff at the Northern Advocate, the REPORT and the Leader have been invaluable friends to us. Peter Crispin and his daughter Bridgette in creating our wonderful business cards added another image-maker to bumper stickers (to be spotted all over New Zealand), and tee shirts ($2,792.00 profit). Sophie and Peter then created the signs and banners which amped up our message through the summer.

And always the steady, dependable effort of Steve Marshall, beavering away in Dunedin to keep our website fresh and interesting. Google Ngunguru Sandspit and our website is at the top of the page. On the site itself, click on Index and be blown away by the breadth and depth of information there.

Financial support for the website comes from the crew at the Ngunguru Transfer/Recycling Station. Headed by Jimi Arnold, workers at the station collect donations for the Sandspit and under the name United Good Friends (UGF) have paid our web fees for the last two years.

In November local artist Serena Dawson won the Northland section of Yellow Pages phone-book cover competition. Her painting, Trip to Ngunguru Sandspit -- is now in (most of) your homes. We accompanied Serena to the function in Auckland at which all winning paintings were auctioned. There we approached the buyer (Auckland Hospital Board) and borrowed the painting to bring back to Ngunguru for a Gala evening of our own.

That of course was the launch of Steve Moase' beautiful work, The Tranquil Spit Endures, the entire 300-print run of which he has gifted to the Sandspit Campaign. It was a wonderful evening; print number one auctioned for $825.00. As a bonus, we gained valuable press coverage. Though a few prints have been sold, we are disappointed we have not yet begun the full-on marketing of Steve's gift. The most successful campaign will hook into a specific need for money or a pivotal event requiring an important memento. We believe we'll have one or the other very soon.

In December I was approached by Michelle McCabe, leader of the Boys’ & Girls’ High Schools' Hillary Challenge Team. As part of the Hillary Challenge, they needed an environmental issue to research and support. They'd chosen Ngunguru Sandspit. Michelle's phone call began a relationship, which netted us much publicity, some money, and eight delightful new friends.

In January, when the team biked, kayaked and ran from town to Ngunguru, splashed into the water for a quick swim to the Sandspit, they were called back to the shore by a karanga from Emma Cribb. Akke, Sophie, Pat Heffey, Judi and Adrian Gilbert and I shared an informal picnic with the tired athletes.

After their first round of competition, “our” team came in first in a field of eight. And in May they finished ninth in a field of 13. I was very close to them in May, enjoying the penetrating cold on the Tongariro plateau. The nature of the competition meant observers were out of the question, but when cell-coverage permitted, I was in touch with their coach by txt.

If you haven't done so, I recommend you read Michelle's account on our website, Hillary Challenge 2008 –Final Round will be No2 on the list. You'll enjoy Steve's morphing photos of the team.

When the Hillary Challenge team left Boys' High for the finals, Emma was there to hug and bless them and send them off with a big bag of sweets. We took photos of them in their Sandspit tee shirts.

NSaPS friendship with these youngsters continues. There's a Ngunguru Sandspit collection bucket at GoGo Espresso (on Reyburn St) owned by the Uncle of one of the girls. From it, we regularly gather donations. And the same intrepid crew intend to challenge again in 2009. I expect we'll be part of that.

Putting on events or participating in those of other groups kept us busy through much of the year. At the Matapouri Gala Day and TCR&R's Summer Meeting, we signed on new members and sold merchandise.

Mary and Andy Britton organized a guitar workshop with Paul McLaney, followed by a concert in Sophie's garden. 50 people attended and we netted $1,750.00. In Paul McLaney, we gained another delightful friend. I expect that relationship to progress in the coming year.

In January and February, we met elected representatives. Mary Britton, Jim Kilpatrick and I (in various groupings) met with the new WDC Councillors representing Ngunguru and the Sandspit, our new Mayor, and MPs Phil Heatley and Brian Donnelly. Brian has long been a supporter and advocate for Ngunguru Sandspit and in this particular meeting he agreed to bring us to the attention of Steve Chadwick, the new Minister of Conservation. In each and every conversation, the representative in front of us warmly assured us he did not want to see the Sandspit developed. Brian offered help.

March brought two exciting steps forward. One was a meeting with Chris Jenkins, Northland Conservator for DoC, suggesting the possibility that the Minister would be coming north and we might be able to meet with her.

Second, Kiwa Media came to do a documentary for Maori Television, half of which would explore the proposed development at Te Arai and the other half focus on Ngunguru Sandspit. The production crew were here for two full days. They interviewed lots of people and were thrilled that Adrian Gilbert was able to pilot them into some great aerial footage. That documentary is scheduled to go to air in September. We'll signal a date and time by email once we know it.

April began predictably with our webmaster's annual April Fool's story. Steve's joke imagined a LandCo land swap and was very funny. It came (unknown to Steve) just as we were to meet the Minister of Conservation to discuss more or less that very topic.

We were squirming, as we feared the Minister would think us irresponsible, even frivolous, indulging in April Fool's jokes at such a time and on that topic!

Unexpectedly we found the Minister in a similar spot. Her office released their own clever April first joke— and NZ media, embarrassed by missing the obvious clues, took it seriously. Then with remarkably bad grace, attacked her and her department for being irresponsible. We congratulated each other on our sense of humour and commiserated on other's lack of it.

For our meeting with the Minister our party comprised Judi Gilbert, Emma Cribb, Mary Britton, Evan Hamlet, Rick Bazely and me. We met at Rick's home which overlooks the Sandspit from the Northern side. The morning was drizzly/misty but, as the Minister and her party arrived, a short break in the weather allowed us all to look down on the Sandspit, enjoying its unspoiled beauty, before we began the meeting.

We introduced ourselves, NSaPS, and our determination to the Minister. She in turn told us of the Government's intention to re-open talks with LandCo. Steve Chadwick then left us for what must have been a cordial and optimistic meeting with LandCo. Because when she spoke to the press afterward she announced to the community and all of New Zealand that DoC did not want to see Ngunguru Sandspit or Whakairiora developed. That with LandCo they were embarking on negotiations to find a solution acceptable to both.

More on this below.

May began work on various submissions (which is going on still). Our task has been to research and write our own submission based on NSaPS core business. In addition, under the Purposes of NSaPS (advocating for and educating about the environment in general, as well as the Sandspit and Whakairiora), to encourage and support individuals in making their own submissions. First, and most daunting, was DoC's Draft New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement—by far the most powerful of all documents relating to our interests. After consultation with other members, Beth Neill wrote our submission. It is now in the “report back” phase.

45 stalwart individuals took up the challenge and supported our submission with submissions of their own. That was 8.5% of the total 535 submissions from all of NZ.

Immediately we were plunged into WDC and NRC's Draft Annual Plans with only three weeks from issue of document to deadline for submission. Judi, Sophie, Rick, Mary and Gloria were all involved in drafting these submissions. We posted extensive information on our website to support the efforts of individuals who wished to follow suit. [stats from Judi] I spoke to both of these submissions.

While both WDC and NRC continue to resist formal acknowledgment of Ngunguru Sandspit and Whakairiora as an emerging Wilderness/Reserve, they have gradually come to regard NSaPS as a potent community advocate. We gained that ground, I believe, in part through the submission process. The attention and respect we were given this year, in both Council Chambers, was strikingly different from our earlier experiences.

Presently WDC is calling for submissions on the Four Well-Beings on which it will hang the Draft LTCCP proposals later this year –and which will in its turn require submissions.

DoC is calling for submissions on its Conservation Management Strategy. You will see posters and forms for both here today.

There are moments when one suspects a wilful undermining of Democracy. A sort of Death by Consultation-Overdose. But I see no present alternative but to participate. (See warning at the bottom.)

Dr Damian Collins, lecturer in Human Geography with colleague Dr Robin Kearns of Auckland University undertook a research study into pressure for development at Ngunguru Sandspit, and associated protection efforts. Their study will span two years and should be finished a year from now.

Of major importance, in early July Greg Oliver, originator and champion for the Ngunguru Sandspit development concept, sold his 50% share in LandCo to the Todd family. Todds now owns 100% of LandCo. We believe this change will increase LandCo's appetite for a deal with DoC. Our role is to be astute and diligent observers. Monitoring what happens at WDC and on the site will continue. Watching the business press and having an ear out for business gossip will continue. Staying informed on legal issues will continue.

Some quite hard work has failed to deliver results. For example, a Public Relations initiative in Auckland would be helpful to the conversation between DoC and LandCo; to date we have not made that happen. Two local supporters in the PR area, Trudi Nelson and Gail King have been helpful. Yet we lack the bigger impact of a major PR player. We will meet the director of a large Auckland/Wellington PR firm in September, hopefully beginning a useful dialogue.

Which turns this discussion towards the future. DoC asks us to begin working on a Trust that will become what we refer to as “safe hands” A Trust ready and able to enter into a management agreement with DoC and Te Waiariki, able to look after the Sandspit and the Mountain. [The report discusses ways in which NSaPS is presently working with DoC, Te Waiariki, Landco and others to further this goal. Dave Monro of the Bream Head Trust spoke about imagining our way into a vision, and thence to goals for our own Trust.]

Building the Trust and planning for the future of Ngunguru Sandspit and Whakairiora will need energetic, talented and younger people on the committee. We begin at this meeting to rejuvenate with two new members. [Anna Murphy and Beth Neill were voted onto the committee to replace Judi Gilbert and Evan Hamlet both of whom will continue to attend meetings as they are able, and to support and advise the committee]

Such a Trust will need funds to progress weed-eradication and provide amenities. NSaPS sent three representatives to the recent ASB funding seminar to learn more about applying for their assistance. We expect a proper marketing effort of the Steve Moase prints to be helpful in fund raising. Long term, the new Trust will need a capital fund large enough to provide on-going income to cover administration costs.

We enter our second incorporated year with the challenge of balancing more effort of the kind that marked last year; and new effort in laying the foundation for the future. This will not be another occasion when the threat to the Sandspit seems to fade and efforts to protect it fade at the same time. This time we intend to nail it --

I call your attention to Kenneth Graham's allegorical charmer, The Wind in the Willows – chapter XI: the Stoats and Weasels taking possession of Toad Hall. I'm intrigued by how aptly that image fits with our own worries about genuine stoats and weasels. We are well acquainted with their creeping and destroying.

Be warned, if we take our eyes off anything that is precious to us, the metaphorical stoats and weasels will slip in quietly and destroy it.

I move the adoption of my report.
Gloria Bruni
30 August, 2008

[This is not the final version of the report, but any differences are minor]


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