Despite protests from residents' groups and a potentially tricky court battle, the Environment Court has given approval for a new marae at Harbourview-Orangihina Park. Kylie Munro reports.
A marae planned for Te Atatu Peninsula will be a modern, eco-friendly facility for all people, the masterminds behind the development say.
The Environment Court has given the marae the go-ahead after dismissing a Te Atatu Residents and Ratepayers Association appeal against the creation of a marae special area at Harbourview-Orangihina Park. Waitakere City Council will sign over 2.5ha of the coastal park for the marae, which is expected to cost up to $12 million.
It's a win for members of the Te Atatu Marae Development Group who have been fighting for the marae since 2002.
The ratepayers' association appealed against the council's decision to create the marae special area in December 2005, claiming the marae was an inappropriate development.
The development group's Mihi Te Huia says the marae will be unique.
She says it will be partially sunk into the bank of the park to retain the picturesque vista and have a turf roof to collect water and insulate the facility.
Water will be recycled through the marae's bathrooms, and solar panels will heat the water and provide electricity.
``We can even see the potential for giving power back to the grid,'' says Mihi.
``This will be a very modern marae but with the old values and the old protocols.''
Fellow development group member Kelvin Martin says the marae will be for the whole community, not just Maori.
He says community groups will be able to learn about Maori culture and also practise their own protocols. ``We can't designate the marae for a particular iwi, it's for all iwi,'' says Kelvin.
``The marae will be registered as a Maori reservation and set aside for all people of Aotearoa.''
The marae will also be used as a youth facility and maybe a tourist attraction where cultural events and tours are held.
``It (the marae) will be something you can see from the Sky Tower and people can look out and think, `That's where I'll go tomorrow','' says Kelvin.
Melba Wellington says the group plans to register for tenureship with the Maori Land Court by October and then meet funders such as community and licensing trusts.
Securing funding, gaining resource consent and then actually building the marae is expected to take about three years.
A potential hurdle is a High Court claim by seven families for 60ha of land at Harbourview-Orangihina Park.
The dispute dates back to 1958 when the Auckland Harbour Board bought the land under the Public Works Act for a port, but later abandoned the scheme. The families say Waitakere City Council, which has inherited the situation and is the first defendant, has ignored its obligation under Section 40 of the act to offer the land back to its original owners.