Seat needs a river outlook

By Lindy Laird

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Whangarei District Council could be negotiating dangerous waters with a proposal to remove mangroves from the Hatea River.

The council is applying for a resource consent to take out trees at sites where they block river views from the Town Basin and environs.

While only punching "windows" in thickets upstream of Canopy Bridge, the plan includes clearing the shoreline to open the view from Reyburn House along Hihiaua Peninsula, around to the Waiarohia Stream.

Staff have fielded complaints from the public that, although there were seats placed along the riverfront, the view of the water, boats and reserves across the river was in places obstructed by mangroves, group manager Paul Dell told last week's District Living committee meeting.

He expected some negative reaction to the consent application, which is expected to be publicly notified in the next week.

However, council hoped people did not think it was taking a slash-and-burn approach to the aquatic trees, some people consider a scourge because of their rapid spread.

"Mangrove trees play an important ecological role and are a real feature of the area. We have gone to some lengths to show we have thought through all the issues in our application for resource consent from the Northland Regional Council," Mr Dell said.

"We have talked to tangata whenua, Department of Conservation and people connected to the [Town] Basin. Experts have assessed and commented on the environmental effects, and we have consulted with a landscape designer. If all goes according to plan we should be able to do this work in a way that people will be happy with.

"Successful urban design is about using different strategies to create the best outcome, depending on the particular environment."

Anyone with an interest in the issue can raise points they want the NRC to consider during the consent process, Mr Dell said.

Past applications to remove mangroves in the Whangarei district have proven contentious.

A resource consent application for the phased destruction of 87ha of mangroves in Mangawhai Harbour failed in the Environment Court in 2011. That plan was replaced this year with an application to remove 42ha of mangroves from seven sites in the harbour.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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