Police on Friday arrested a man near the new Waiheke Marina at Pūtiki Bay on Waiheke Island where Auckland Council staff were removing the last protest camp.
Grant Tetzlaff, Auckland Central Area Commander, said today: “Police assisted Auckland Council staff at Pūtiki Bay. A 53-year-old man was arrested by police in relation to an alleged assault and possession of an offensive weapon.”
People in the area told the Herald how the final occupier was now gone and most of the camp where he lived was dismantled after police moved in before the weekend.
The launch MV Deodar arrived at the bay with around six officers. Eight private security staff assisted, one neighbour said.
“A crew including half a dozen workers, three to four small trucks and a digger all came over on the Kennedy Point Ferry from town to clear the site. They were here for the day but still have not finished, such was the extent of the camp including posts concreted into the ground, retaining walls, tents and mountains of rubbish,” the neighbour said yesterday.
A car used as a bedroom remained on the site because a local tow truck was not powerful enough to tow it from the sand, he said.
“There is a lot of debris still in the sand which needs to be cleaned up. A warning sign remains on site,” he said.
The man thanked the Herald for coverage of the camp, which the council had acknowledged was illegal and would be removed.
Friday’s events follow the establishment two-and-a-half years ago of the anti-marina protest camp.
A spokeswoman for the council said in October it was taking enforcement action against the camp. Attempts to seek compliance in June and July had failed, she said.
The Herald reported extensively on violent protests in the once-peaceful bay, resulting in weeks of confrontations, often involving security, the police and arrests.
On November 20, Waiheke Marina directors Tony Mair and barrister Kitt Littlejohn opened the 181-berth marina, but meanwhile, the protest camp which tried but failed to stop the development in 2021 remained in place. Instead of being Kennedy Point Marina, it is now called Waiheke Island Marina.
On Friday, action group Protect Pūtiki pleaded for members to meet at the bay to stop enforcement action: “Red Alert! Police are onsite at Pūtiki and the occupation is being dismantled. Please head to the bay,” the notice on Instagram said.
But one opponent replied “See ya later freeloaders”, accompanied by a handclapping sign.
Another said: “The marina is already built though. What’s the outcome of continuously protesting something that’s already been lost?”
A neighbour complained in October that enforcement action to dismantle the camp and remove buildings was taking too long, saying people in the area were fed up with the eyesore.
“Many Waiheke residents are shocked and disgusted about the people who have allowed this to drag on for so long,” the neighbour said, asking not to be named for fear of retaliation.
By late November, around 173 of the 181 berths have been sold at what is the island’s only marina. The berths sold for around $180,000 to $400,000 each.
Anne Gibson has been the Herald’s property editor for 23 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas.