Plans for an international golfing resort and 45 luxury houses 90 minutes north of Auckland are not ideal but better than a huge residential estate, says a community group.
The Te Arai Beach Preservation Society was pleased to hear of new owners Los Angeles-based financier Ric Kayne and his wife Suzanne, saying they had the means and inclination to appreciate and protect the environment.
This week, it was announced the couple had struck a deal with Te Uri o Hau to develop the 230ha it bought after the hapu's Treaty of Waitangi settlement returned 616ha of forestry in 2002.
The Kaynes say they will develop a world-class golf course and the housing lots are on sites where buildings will not be visible from the beach.
The society said a golf course was a less satisfactory outcome than a regional park, but better than housing.
"We understand however that there is a long way to go before a golf course becomes a reality," it said.
"No water consent has been issued for the 1000m3/ day required for a successful venture.
"It will also be very difficult to establish new plantings without additional water take, particularly since the protective vegetation windbreak wedge has been removed to allow for views." Several shorebird trusts were already established to protect the endangered fairy tern and northern New Zealand dotterel on the adjoining wildlife refuge and Te Arai Beach, the society said.
A spokeswoman for The Fairy Tern Charitable Trust said the organisation was interested to hear of the proposal to set up a separate fund for greater protection of the birds as a condition of the sale of the land.