Two New Zealand First MPs have taken a swipe at a new luxury golf estate and housing project at Te Arai north of Auckland, questioning the process over changes to access near the beach.
Winston Peters, the Northland MP and NZ First Leader, criticised the process around changes to the configuration of a road into a carpark near the project on beachfront ex-forestry land at Te Arai, south of Mangawhai.
Land is being developed by Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors' founder and co-chairman Ric Kayne of the United States and Queenstown-based John Darby who have worked with a local iwi.
They have created Tara Iti, said to be one of the world's best new golf courses, built in sand dunes above Te Arai beach.
"Why do Kiwis, going about their lives as best they can, have to fight every step of the way to preserve what is their right against a billionaire developer from another country and a complicit government?" Peters asked in a written statement headlined 'Northland locals fight for their rights at Te Arai Beach'.
NZ First list MP Tracey Martin also expressed concerns.
"The Te Arai community had a huge battle over the beach car park, after consent was approved to move it back from the sea and behind the new multimillion-dollar houses.
"There was a win on that front with the retention of the sea front car park and the addition of an overflow car park," she said.
But lobbying resulted in public consultation being waived over amendments to the width of a public access easement, she said.
Earlier this month, a community group claimed public access to the popular surf beach was under threat but the developers said at the time that changes would not bar people from the beach and Auckland Council said all consents issued were legal.
Aaron McConchie, chairperson of Save Te Arai, said more than 6100 signatures were on a petition going to Auckland Council opposing non-notified decisions on Pacific Rd, Mangawhai.
But a spokesman for Te Arai North, which has developed Tara Iti, dismissed McConchie's claims and said the public's enjoyment of the area had been greatly enhanced with a vast new public park.
"Pacific Rd is a Crown easement through a privately owned forest. Access is guaranteed. Moreover, we gifted over 200ha of land to create a public reserve and protect Te Arai beach," the Te Arai North spokesman said.
"Public access is already guaranteed along Pacific Rd and the public - including the Save Te Arai group - were consulted on and agreed with minor changes to the configuration of the road into the carpark in the public reserve area in a consultation meeting last May," the spokesman said.
Penny Pirrit, Auckland Council's regulatory services director, also rejected criticism.
"The development at Te Arai underwent a prolonged plan change process and an Environment Court hearing. The Environment Court set down the rules on how the approach to the Te Arai development should occur. Those rules are now being implemented through consents and the council is closely monitoring how those consents are being adhered to," she said.