Ask Phoebe

Phoebe Falconer answers your questions about Auckland

Ask Phoebe: Tiny isle belongs to no one

By Phoebe Falconer

Which local authority, if any, has jurisdiction over the little island on the Herne Bay side of the Harbour Bridge?

There appear to be some pohutukawa growing on the cliff sides, but nothing on the top. Whoever has authority might consider giving the island a helping hand by planting more pohutukawa here. Derek Curran, Auckland.

Auckland City Council, the Auckland Regional Council and Ports of Auckland all say it's not their responsibility. Local iwi appear to have customary rights over the island, called Watchman Island, and consider it an ancestral site.

My colleague Brian Rudman obtained information from a thesis written by ARC chairman Mike Lee. Mr Lee said that Watchman Island and many other islets in the Hauraki Gulf "are not formally owned in a property title sense. For nearly 150 years they have existed in a legal limbo as 'uninvestigated', which normally presupposes Maori customary land."

Mr Lee calls them a "tiny remnant of pre-European New Zealand, tiny crumbs left over and forgotten after extinguishment of aboriginal communal ownership and the transformation of the land into individual and Crown property titles". And Land Information NZ said that to determine actual ownership would require a hearing in the Maori Land Court.

So who could plant more trees? Who knows?

The supermarket carpark in Tamaki Drive has been boarded up for weeks now while construction work takes place inside. This means there is now no footpath on that side of the road. There is one on the other side but it is difficult and dangerous to cross the road. Can anything be done to help? Mr Leighton, Auckland.

The supermarket, Countdown, is in Quay St, Mr Leighton, but your concern is still valid. As soon as the council found out about the safety issue, they asked the contractor to put pointsmen in to direct pedestrians.

The hoarding is scheduled to be pulled down this week and moved closer to the building line, so the footpath can be restored. Some trees have also been removed or pruned to make more room for pedestrians. The footpath will still be narrow, but it will be wide enough for pushchairs and will be safer than walking on the road.

Any idea when Kingdon St in Newmarket will re-open to straight-through traffic? Now that the temporary railway station has been demolished, I'm hoping it will be soon. Jonathan Spencer, Auckland.

No date has been set yet, but there will be problems in re-opening Kingdon St. The imminent electrification of the Auckland rail network, as well as changes to passenger rail travel, mean that trains through Kingdon may be even more frequent, causing traffic delays and disruption. KiwiRail is looking at options to the level crossing and consulting the Auckland City Council. But construction on Newmarket's western line and the new Grafton Station will keep this street closed for a while yet.

- NZ Herald

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