Historic Day for New Zealand: Maori Affairs Committee Recommends NPDC's Waitara Lands Bill Be Approved
02 August 2017
The Maori Affairs Committee’s recommendation that Parliament approves a Bill to free up leasehold lands in Waitara is a historic moment for New Zealand, says New Plymouth District Mayor Neil Holdom.
New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) has worked with the Māori Affairs Committee to make amendments to the Bill.
If approved by Parliament, funds from the leasehold land – both rents and sales proceeds – will now be used as follows: Fifty per cent of NPDC’s share of rent or sales proceeds will now go to a fund for Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū to enable them to own land in or around Waitara. The rest of NPDC’s funds would continue to go into a perpetual fund for the benefit of the Waitara community, with a governance team comprising NPDC and Te Atiawa representatives. Taranaki Regional Council’s share of rent or sales proceeds will now be used on the Waitara River catchment by a joint TRC and iwi committee. The Bill balances the aspirations of hapū and leaseholders as well as NPDC’s legal obligations.
“This is a huge step forward and something we as a community have been working towards for more than 30 years,” says Mayor Holdom.
“Waitara’s story is New Zealand’s story. It’s an example of how we can work through an extraordinarily complex matter that at times hasn’t been easy, to achieve a great result for our community while balancing the needs of all our 80,000 residents.”
A second reading of the Bill will occur in Parliament in the coming weeks. Further detail on the Bill is online at newplymouthnz.com and parliament.nz. FAST FACTS - New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill
Why are these lands so important?
The Crown’s attempt in 1860 to purchase the Pekapeka Block (a large portion of what is modern-day Waitara) sparked the first Taranaki War, which led to confiscation of Maori land. The Crown gifted confiscated land to local authorities for the development of a harbour and the township at Waitara.
What are the leasehold lands?
Of the approximately 170 hectares of Council-owned endowment land in Waitara, 133ha was former Waitara Borough Council land held under the Waitara Harbour Act 1940, and the balance land that the Crown gave to borough authorities for municipal purposes under various pieces of legislation and Crown grants. Around 51ha are leased for around 700 homes on 21-year perpetual leases. The remainder is used for around 80 commercial and industrial perpetual leases, grazing, parks and reserves, and Council purposes, or is vacant, flood-prone land.
What is the Bill trying to achieve?
The Bill now: Transfers almost half of the endowment land to iwi and/or hapu ownership. Removes the restrictions on how income from the leasehold land can be used (which is currently limited to meeting administration costs and limited other purposes such as bridge maintenance). Fifty per cent of NPDC’s funds from the leasehold lands will go to a fund for Manukorihi and Otaraua hapū to enable them to own land in or around Waitara; the rest will go into a perpetual fund for the benefit of the Waitara community. Taranaki Regional Council’s funds from the leasehold land will be used on the Waitara River catchment. Provides leaseholders the right to buy the freehold title to their properties at the current market value of the section. What is the next step?
Parliament is scheduled to hold a second reading of the Bill on 9 August, although this is subject to Parliamentary processes.
Waitara Lands Bill timeline
1941: all endowment land in Waitara was in the hands of the Waitara Borough Council, one of NPDC’s predecessors.
1989: local government amalgamation in New Zealand. At its first standard council meeting, the newly formed New Plymouth District Council decides to freehold its leasehold lands in Waitara.
1992: NPDC introduces a Bill to Parliament but the Government raises concerns about the sale of such significant land and asks NPDC to try to reach a solution with Te Atiawa.
2002: NPDC starts a review of its position in relation to the Waitara leasehold lands, involving extensive public consultation.
30 March 2004: NPDC resolves to sell leasehold land to the Crown at fair market value for inclusion in Te Atiawa’s treaty settlement and withdraws its 1992 Bill.
31 March 2004: first court proceedings against the Council issue by Waitara Leaseholders Association.
4 November 2005: High Court decision against NPDC.
20 March 2007: Court of Appeal ruling in favour of NPDC.
14 May 2008: High Court strikes out six test cases of individual leaseholder claims against NPDC.
7 September 2010: conditional sale and purchase agreement entered into between the Crown and NPDC to enable endowment land to be used in the settlement.
23 August 2011: final individual leaseholder claim disposed of by Court of Appeal.
30 May 2014: NPDC advised by Office of Treaty Settlements and the Te Atiawa Iwi Authority of their decision not to include Waitara lands in the settlement.
8 August 2014: heads of agreement signed between NPDC and Te Kotahitangi o Te Atiawa (Te Atiawa’s post-settlement authority).
April to May 2016: public consultation on draft New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill.
14 September 2016: Bill introduced to Parliament.
21 September 2016: Bill’s first reading in Parliament and is referred to the Maori Affairs Select Committee.
2 August 2017: the committee recommends that Parliament approves the Bill.
Community Funding Allocations Announced
01 August 2017
More than 30 community organisations have received grants from New Plymouth District Council’s Community Funding Investment Committee for 2017/18.
The grants include multi-year funding to several agencies through a strategic partnership, which will enable the groups to continue their work for more than one year.
Committee chair Harry Duynhoven says as always there were more applications than available funds but it was inspiring to see so many organisations achieving positive outcomes for the people of New Plymouth District.
“They contribute so much to our community and we’re pleased to be able to support them in the great work that they do,” he says.
The recipients of the 2017/18 funding round are:
Strategic partnerships (annual payment over a multi-year period) Big Brothers Big Sisters Taranaki: $3,000 per year (five-year period). Foundation for the Blind: $5,000 per year (three-year period). New Plymouth Indian Community: $8,000 per year (three-year period). Migrant Connections: $18,000 per year (five-year period). Multi Ethnic Council: $12,000 per year (three-year period). Surf Lifesaving New Zealand: $75,000 per year (five-year period). Toimata Foundation: $13,000 per year (three-year period). Taranaki Rescue Helicopter: $30,000 per year (three-year period). New Plymouth City Band: $10,000 per year (five-year period). Victim Support: $3,500 per year (five-year period). New Plymouth injurySafe Trust: $30,000 per year (three-year period). NP Orchestra: $10,000 per year (five-year period). Taranaki Elite Athletes: $20,000 per year (five-year period). East Taranaki Environment Trust: $18,000 per year (five-year period). Community Services and Grants (one off payment for the 2017/18 financial year) Hearing New Zealand: $1,500. New Plymouth Basketball Association: $10,000. Dress for Success New Plymouth: $17,000. Taranaki Women’s Refuge: $18,000. Access Radio Taranaki: $12,000. English Language Partners Taranaki: $2,500. Waitara Alive: $7,000. New Plymouth Emergency Shelter: $15,000. North Taranaki Neighbourhood Support: $7,000. Taranaki Adult Literacy Services: $3,000. Chamber Music New Zealand: $6,000. Taranaki Futures Trust: $47,000. The Parenting Place: $2,000. Taranaki Retreat Trust: $20,000. Intercreate Trust: $20,000. Ars Nova Choir: $5,000. Wellstop Taranaki: $2,500. Taranaki Disabilities Information Centre: $4,000. New Plymouth and District RSA: $15,000.
Zero Waste and Coastal Walkway Winners in NPDC Proposed Focus Area Community Survey
28 July 2017
Thousands of people have taken part in conversations on the proposed Focus Areas for New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) with Zero Waste and extending the Coastal Walkway from Bell Block to Waitara coming out tops.
Zero Waste had the highest level of support with 559 of the 670 responses in favour. Just 50 were against and 61 were neutral.
The second-most-popular proposal was extending the Coastal Walkway to Waitara with 490 of the 580 responses in support (with 36 opposed and 54 neutral).
Further down the list were: Thriving central city: 440 positive responses, 48 neutral, 30 negative. Breakwater Bay: 429 positive, 51 neutral, 70 negative. Treasure our water: 289 positive, 70 neutral, 64 negative. “Our awesome natural environment has come out tops, along with extending the coastal walkway from Bell Block to Waitara,” says Mayor Neil Holdom.
“We’re delighted that more than 3,500 people have completed the survey and tens of thousands watched our videos, giving valuable feedback about what our focus areas should be for the next three years.
“These opinions will be factored in, as we begin our public conversation about our 10-year work programme called the Long-Term Plan 2018-2028.
“However we’re aware that plenty of people haven’t joined the discussion yet, so this coming week we’re encouraging people to Keep Talking and letting us know, what our focus should be.
“What have we missed? Do you have any other big ideas? How can we keep the conversation going and communicate with you better?” says the Mayor.
For more information or to have your say, fill in our online survey at newplymouthnz.com/Top10 and go in the draw to win an iPad.
Three Candidates for Inglewood Community Board By-election
25 July 2017
Nominations for New Plymouth District Council’s vacant Inglewood Community Board seat closed at noon today (Tuesday), with three people standing in the by-election.
The three candidates are: Mel Cook. Megan Hale (Independent). Michael Self. Voting papers will be delivered to South-West Ward residents who are on the electoral roll for the Inglewood Community Board area by 29 August, with voting closing on 20 September.
If you live in or own property in the Inglewood Community Board area but are not on the electoral roll, you can apply to enrol as either a residential or ratepayer elector until Tuesday 19 September – the day before the close of voting – by going to a Post Shop or the Civic Centre on Liardet Street, New Plymouth, or online to elections.org.nz or newplymouthnz.com.
The community board vacancy was created following the resignation of board member Phil Rowe. Voting documents for the North Ward by-election will be delivered to voters registered on the electoral roll in the North Ward (the Waitara and Clifton areas) from Tuesday 15 August. Voting papers must reach the Council by noon on Wednesday 6 September.
New Plymouth Lands Major Events Conference
25 July 2017
New Zealand’s premier event industry conference will be held in New Plymouth this year, in what is a major coup for the district and region.
Eventing the Future is the key national conference for event professionals across all sectors of the industry, from sports and arts, to festivals, not-for-profit organisations and government agencies.
The conference is traditionally held in the major centres, however, a high-quality bid put together by New Plymouth District Council and Venture Taranaki resulted in the region being awarded the event.
NPDC Venues Lead, Nelita Byrne, said more than 140 delegates would descend on the region from
August 2-3 to experience first-hand what Taranaki has to offer and why it was named one of the top two places in the world to visit.
“This will provide a great opportunity for us to showcase the region as an event and visitor destination and highlight some of our unique events and the talented individuals behind them.
“Having all the major players here could also lead to wider opportunities for the region which we’re very excited about.”
Byrne said the conference would also provide an opportunity for those involved in the local events sector to grow, through providing access to seminars and workshops with some of the most successful event experts in the country.
“We really are a world class destination here in Taranaki and this conference is another string to our bow in terms of being recognised as a place with a great reputation when it comes to hosting, innovation within the industry, and also the facilities we have on offer.”
New Plymouth’s TSB Showplace will be the host venue for the conference, while those attending will also experience the award-winning Yarrow Stadium, and internationally renowned Govett Brewster Art Gallery Len Lye Centre.
Energy, Dairy and Tourism?
21 July 2017
Should Taranaki increase its share of New Zealand’s tourism pie?
New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) is considering whether to focus more on tourism, as a major plank of the region’s economy, alongside the giants of energy and dairy.
Currently visitors make just over a million trips a year to Taranaki and the questions needs to be asked, should our region take advantage of our top-two in the world accolade from international travel guide publisher Lonely Planet and ride the wave of investment in the Pouakai Crossing, the State Highway 3 upgrade at Mt Messenger and New Plymouth Airport?
“We have enormous potential. That’s why Lonely Planet put us on the global tourist map as one of the top-two regions in the world to visit,” Mayor Neil Holdom.
“Keeping ourselves on the tourist map means more opportunities for our people, more visitors, more jobs and a more secure future.”
According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, visitors make just over a million trips a year to Taranaki, spending about $340 million a year.
“What if we could double this?” asks Councillor Stacey Hitchcock. “Adding another major pillar to our economy, alongside energy and agriculture, will keep the tills ringing and support our lifestyle.”
There is enormous potential in telling the stories of our past – including the Taranaki Wars and New Zealand’s oldest stone church. Working with neighbouring districts could see the creation of tourist trails – for example, visitors to Waitomo could be directed to Mokau, then to the Three Sisters, the White Cliffs and so on.
DOC has started to help make the Pouakai Crossing a walk of national significance – one that is on a par with the Tongariro Crossing – and the NZ Transport Agency will ensure our connection to Auckland and the rest of the North Island is even stronger with an improved highway around the Awakino Gorge and Mount Messenger.
Should NPDC be doing more to grow the tourism sector and Destination Taranaki? A survey is online at newplymouthnz.com/Top10 for people to share their thoughts – and everyone who completes the survey goes in the draw to win an iPad!
Five Nominees for North Ward By-election
11 July 2017
Nominations for New Plymouth District Council’s vacant North Ward seat closed at noon today (Tuesday), with five people standing in the by-election.
The five candidates are: John Williams. Pam Street. Bill Simpson. Vicky Dombroski. Jonathan Marshall. Voting documents will be delivered to voters registered on the electoral roll in the North Ward (the Waitara and Clifton areas) from Tuesday 15 August. Voting papers must reach New Plymouth District Council by noon on Wednesday 6 September.
If you live in or own property in the North Ward but are not on the electoral roll, you can apply to enrol as either a residential or ratepayer elector until Tuesday 5 September – the day before the close of voting – by going to a Post Shop or the Civic Centre on Liardet Street, New Plymouth, or online to elections.org.nz or newplymouthnz.com.
The North Ward vacancy was created following the resignation of former Deputy Mayor Craig McFarlane. Nominations for the vacant seat on the Inglewood Community Board close at noon on Tuesday 25 July. Nomination forms are available at the Inglewood Library and Service Centre, the Civic Centre in New Plymouth, and online at newplymouthnz.com.
Planning Ahead for our Children: What's our next Pukekura Park or Coastal Walkway?
07 July 2017
The possibility of a flagship project every five or 10 years with strict financial management is being raised for discussion and public feedback by New Plymouth District Council (NPDC).
A flagship project could be a new recreation or sports facility, or an initiative that boosts the district’s economy – for instance, by attracting a major event.
Alternatively, NPDC could revamp an existing lifestyle facility, so they can continue to meet the needs of a growing population.
Councillor Stacey Hitchcock says the visionary work of our forebears resulted in the creation of Pukekura Park, Puke Ariki and the Coastal Walkway – award-winning attractions that have put New Plymouth District on the map.
“Success is a long-term project that’s built on good financial judgement,” she says.
“These flagship attractions are a legacy of the foresight and investment of previous generations, which have contributed to Lonely Planet naming Taranaki one of the top-two destinations in the world.
“We need to ask ourselves: how can we continue our success for our children? What’s our vision and how can we pay for it?
“By keeping a tight rein on our finances, we think we could plan for a flagship project every five to 10 years.”
Adds Councillor Harry Duynhoven: “Our district is growing fast. It’s home to about 80,000 people now and it’s forecast to hit 106,000 in 30 years.
“But we want our home to be more than just habitable; we want the mod cons that keep it comfortable and attractive – for ourselves and our visitors.
“We have to recognise that our district can’t stand still and we should prepare for the future.”
The Council would like to know what you think – just go online to newplymouthnz.com/Top10 and fill in the short survey. Everyone who completes a survey will go in the draw to win an iPad.
Huge Growth Potential in Developing Breakwater Bay in Wake of America's Cup Win
30 June 2017
New Plymouth District Council is considering the potential for Breakwater Bay developments to boost the region’s economy.
The bay, at the eastern end of the port where cafes and recreation businesses are grouped, could have a marina development, better connections to the Coastal Walkway and more leisure and shopping opportunities.
And in the wake of New Zealand’s America’s Cup win, when the international yachting fraternity’s attention will be on our country more than ever before, the timing could be perfect.
Councillor Murray Chong says Port Taranaki makes a significant contribution to the Taranaki economy and the areas of the port that are accessible to the public make for a great day out.
“But is it an under-developed jewel in our crown?” asks Mr Chong.
“Marina developments in other regional ports – like Picton, Nelson, Napier and Whangarei – have generated jobs and business with new leisure and shopping precincts. Some have drawn hotels too.
“It could also attract international yachts – maybe trans-Tasman races – and bring more competitors to our fishing tournaments.
“Our coastal attractions and links to the sea are an important part of our history and key to our appeal. We need to make the most of them.”
Says Councillor Alan Melody: “The question is whether the public wants this to be one of the areas that the Council focuses its efforts, in partnership with Port Taranaki and Ngati Te Whiti.
“We’ve got a survey up on newplymouthnz.com/Top10 and we’d really like to get the public’s feedback on how important this is to them.”
Port Taranaki, NPDC, and Ngati Te Whiti already have a working relationship at the Ngamotu Beach area of the port. Port Taranaki owns the land but has made it available to the public for recreational use, while NPDC maintains the amenities such as toilets, open spaces, picnic tables, benches and play equipment. Ngati Te Whiti, a hapu of Te Atiawa, is mana whenua.
Saturday Car Parking Charges to Benefit Central Business District
29 June 2017
Charges for parking in New Plymouth’s CBD on Saturdays will begin this weekend (1 July) – and the revenue will be used to benefit the central business area.
Earlier this year the Council decided to not continue with free Saturday car parking once the 12-month trial finished at the end of June.
Instead, the estimated $310,000 that will come each year from the Saturday car parking charges will be invested back into the city’s CBD as part of the Council’s effort to support the region’s major business and retail area.
Councillor Shaun Biesiek says New Plymouth’s CBD is the district’s and region’s business, social and cultural hub, but it is facing challenges.
“Visitor and shopping trends are changing. To give the central city the support and energy it needs to thrive, we need to seize new opportunities and be more creative about how we do that,” he says.
“The funding we get from Saturday parking revenue will help us entice local, national and international visitors, which will in turn bring jobs and business opportunities.”
The funding will go towards more public events in the central city, enhancing the facades of selected heritage buildings, better management of CBD trees and the creation a Central City Liaison.
Make parking easier
The easy-to-use PayMyPark app enables users to pay for parking via their smartphone. Users can extend their parking time remotely, receive an alert when their paid parking is about to expire, or use the start/stop function and pay for only the parking minutes that are used.
More information is available online at newplymouthnz.com/PayMyPark.
Remember that the first 10 minutes in a paid parking space are free (so you can duck into a store quickly without feeding the meter – just be sure to return before the 10 minutes are up!)
In addition, NPDC wants public feedback on whether reinforcing New Plymouth as a destination for leisure, events and cultural activities should be a key focus area of the Council. Just go to newplymouthnz.com/Top10 and fill in the Central City survey.
National Award for Management of Infrastructure Contracts
29 June 2017
Saving Ratepayers More than Half a Million Dollars
A new way of managing how engineering consultants design the district’s infrastructure is estimated to have saved New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) more than $600,000 in its first year.
The success of the first 12 months of the new process was capped off with an award from the Institute of Public Works Engineers Australasia (IPWEA) at their national annual conference in Dunedin last week.
“The innovative approach we’ve taken means Council staff and consultants are incentivised to work collaboratively to be more efficient and reduce the cost of doing the work,” says David Langford.
“Cost savings made by the consultants are shared with the Council, which is great news for New Plymouth’s ratepayers – and expect this new approach to continue to deliver savings for the community’s benefit.”
Mr Langford says receiving this recognition from the IPWEA shows that the Council’s new approach to engineering design contracts is considered industry best practice and that New Plymouth District is starting to lead the way.
“It’s also great recognition for our team, who have worked really hard to make these cost savings possible,” he says.
A Home for Champions
28 June 2017
A Bell Block martial arts group has a new home thanks to a New Plymouth District Council community lease. >> Watch the video
The Hurricanes Martial Arts Academy moved into the old Scout Hall earlier this year and have been slowly doing it up into a purpose-designed training base.
The move was made possible thanks to a special NPDC lease on the land.
Now the club with about 65 members – mostly kids – can grow with the community.
“The Scout Hall has a long history from scout groups to the last occupants, Box Office Boxing, which produced some of New Zealand’s best boxers,” says Hurricanes founder Gavin Hughes.
“The Hurricanes plan to add to the history by creating future champions both in the arena and in life.”
The Hurricanes bought the building from Box Office Boxing for just $1 and NPDC approved a concessionary lease on the land for $1 a year for 10 years.
Previously the Hurricanes had rented hall space in Bell Block.
“Since moving to the Mangati Reserve site, we have been able to create a safer training area with fixed floor mats and permanently hanging boxing bags,” says Mr Hughes.
“We are planning major internal and external upgrades over the next four years as we intend to grow and retain our membership base and upgrade the facilities and our equipment.”
NPDC Property Management Lead Catherine Croot says the Council operates about 120 such community leases.
“This is an example of the good that New Plymouth District Council community leases do, such as enabling the use of a run-down building for kids and adults to get together and keep fit and enjoy themselves,” says Ms Croot.
Damaged Suspension Bridge to Reopen After Repairs
26 June 2017
The historic Bertrand Road Bridge is expected to reopen by the middle of next month.
The bridge was damaged on 20 May when an oversized truck drove onto it and damaged the running planks, decking boards and handrails. The bridge has been closed for inspections since then.
Fortunately, these inspections have shown that no serious damage has been done to the structure of the bridge and its supports.
As well as making repairs, the Council will replace the existing traffic bollards – which were in place to allow bridge access to only light vehicles – with larger ones.
“Over the years the previous bollards had been nudged aside as bigger vehicles tried their luck,” says Infrastructure Manager David Langford.
“As well as bringing in these larger bollards we’ll install four more – two on either side – 10m away from the bridge as an additional warning to drivers.
“This is a historic suspension bridge and it’s important that road users respect it. When it reopens, it will be for pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes and light vehicles only.”
The repairs will cost about $60,000, with the company that employed the truck driver paying the bill.
The Bertrand Road Bridge crosses the Waitara River and connects the communities of Huirangi and Tikorangi.
It was closed in 1985 to vehicles and in 2004 to pedestrians due to safety concerns, then was reopened in 2016 after the Bertrand Road Suspension Bridge Trust raised $630,000 to have it restored.
Inglewood Community Board Member Resigns: Second By-election Coming
23 June 2017
A member of the Inglewood Community Board has tendered his resignation letter for personal reasons.
Phil Rowe, who was Chair of the board during the 2013/16 term, has confirmed his resignation. Mr Rowe was first elected to the board in 2007, with his fourth successful election last year.
Current board chairman Kevin Rowan says he regrets the resignation as Mr Rowe has brought substantial local knowledge to the community board.
“However I wish him well for the future and I thank him for his service to the community over the years,” says Mr Rowan.
“We’ll be opening nominations for election on Tuesday the 27 June. I really encourage people to stand for election as the community boards are a great way to make real changes in our community, especially with the Council’s draft long-term (10 year) plan coming up.”
Nomination forms will be available online at newplymouthnz.com and at the Inglewood Library and Service Centre as well as the Civic Centre in New Plymouth.
Voting papers will be delivered to South-West Ward residents who are on the electoral roll by 29 August, with voting closing on 20 September.
It is the second by-election that will be held by New Plymouth District Council following the resignation of former Deputy Mayor Craig McFarlane so that he can concentrate on recovering his health following a stroke. The by-election for Mr McFarlane’s North Ward seat will be held from 15 August to 6 September.
The by-elections for the Inglewood Community Board seat and the Council’s North Ward seat are being held separately as they involve different groups of electors.