Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Protests likely after failure of petition to stop Mangere housing development

Protesters at the site of a Fletchers housing project at Ihumatao, Mangere in March. New Zealand Herald Photo by Jason Oxenham.
Protesters at the site of a Fletchers housing project at Ihumatao, Mangere in March. New Zealand Herald Photo by Jason Oxenham.

Protest action is set to be ramped up after MPs decided to take no action on a petition to stop a housing development near archaeologically-sensitive land in Mangere.

Fletcher Residential has won the right to build a huge new housing project next to the Otuataua Stonefields Reserve near Auckland Airport.

About 300 people held hands on the site in March in a bid to stop the development - and Labour and Mangere MP Su'a William Sio says more protest action is now unavoidable.

"Our community will be left with no other choice but to heighten our peaceful protest if an amicable resolution is not found.

"Ihumatao is an internationally significant heritage landscape and an important natural, archaeological and historic area that should be protected for future generations."

The foundations of houses and gardens using the reserve area's natural scoria dating back 700 years to the earliest stage of Maori development.

The development block contains at least two lava caves that Maori used as burial sites.

Fletchers has agreed to add that part of the site to the reserve, and create a buffer zone of green space immediately adjoining the housing area.

Labour MP Su'a William Sio says more protests are likely over a Mangere housing development. PHOTO/ STEPHEN PARKER.
Labour MP Su'a William Sio says more protests are likely over a Mangere housing development. PHOTO/ STEPHEN PARKER.

But former Conservation Department regional heritage manager Dave Veart has told the Herald that there are almost certainly items of archaeological significance on the rest of the site.

Parliament's social services committee has reported back on a petition by Waimarie McFarland on behalf of the Save Our Unique Landscapes (SOUL) group.

The petitioners do not want any building on the special housing area at 545 Oruarangi Rd, and say the land should be preserved for future generations as a public open space.

In its majority decision, the committee acknowledged the interest in the "special" and historically-significant piece of land, and sympathised with their concerns.

However, the committee ruled it could not revoke the special housing area status, which could only be done if the establishment criteria were no longer met or if the region was no longer experiencing housing supply and affordability issues.

Another problem was that the final date for revocation notices had already passed, and that any development decisions would still stand regardless of such a revocation.

In a minority view, Labour and the Green Party said the case raised important issues about fast-tracked planning processes - with further tension likely between housing development and those wanting to preserve Auckland's cultural or historical value.

The opposition parties want the Government and Auckland Council to convene a meeting between landowners, developers and local residents to try and agree on a resolution.

Lawyer Sue Simons for Fletcher has described the vision for the project as "the creation of an affordable residential community that achieves quality environmental outcomes and recognises cultural values and associations with the area."

When the development was approved in May, the Accord Territorial Authority found Fletcher's application to be generally consistent with plans for the area.

- NZ Herald

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