As violence escalates at Waiheke Island's once-peaceful, picturesque Pūtiki Bay at Kennedy Point, the marina developer has halted construction works because of safety concerns.
What's going on?
It may seem sudden, but it's been a long time in the making. This answers key questions about events including this week's video where a protester was shown being kicked in the face by a man in a high-vis vest.
Things came to a head after weeks of confrontations and protests, often involving security, the police and arrests.
In a statement out this morning, a Kennedy Point Boatharbour director and lawyer Kitt Littlejohn said: "Due to the actions of protesters at the site, on-site construction is on hold until it is considered safe to resume works."
Normally, the sheltered bay's biggest disruption is the quiet gliding arrival of a car ferry sporting a giant supermarket truck.
But for more than 120 days, protesters have tried to try to stop construction of the island's first marina - a 186-berth giant, granted resource consent last decade and where berths have pre-sold to the well-heeled from $180,000 according to developer Tony Mair.
Who are the protesters?
Protest by one active well-backed group, SKP (Inc) - formerly Save Kennedy Point - ended last month after SKP spent tens of thousands dollars over some years via the courts. Mainfreight founder and island resident Bruce Plested said he had given SKP around $40,000. "Kennedy Point Boatharbour and SKP have reached an out of court settlement marking the end of four years of court battles over Waiheke's Kennedy Point Marina," said a joint statement out on June 2.
"SKP has also agreed to withdraw its judicial review and interim orders application on the basis of undertakings given by KPBL regarding revising its kororā plans to ensure better monitoring and protection for the kororā," that group said.
But another iwi group, Protect Pūtiki, rose up: "We, Uri o Ngāti Pāoa, are currently occupying the beach at Pūtiki Bay (Kennedy Point), Waiheke Island. We are occupying to protect our ancestral moana, Tikapa Moana, by stopping the proposed Kennedy Point Marina. Many Uri o Ngāti Pāoa - descendants of our iwi - have returned to Waiheke to occupy and have been here since March 9. We are committed to staying indefinitely."
Members include Emily Weiss who regularly posts Facebook and Instagram videos, raising concern about the little blue penguins or kororā. The group's catchcry is: "Colonisation is not welcome on our moana." It wants either Auckland Council or the Government to stop work and cites Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Weiss claims the protest is "maybe the first mana whenua moana-based occupation" in New Zealand.
What is the fight about?
The developer wants to build the island's first marina. The protesters want to stop it, particularly citing the kororā and its habitat.
The developer has a resource consent but the protesters don't recognise the validity of that. The developer has consent for secure berth holder car parking, vehicle loading and unloading areas, bicycle racks, secure kayak and standup paddleboard storage, visitor information at the marina office, daytime operating café, chandlery, meeting venue, toilets and showers, laundry facilities, boat maintenance berth, small boat day berthage, public pick-up and drop-off berth and grey and black water pump-out facility.
Who are the parties involved?
Companies Office records show Kennedy Point Boatharbour directors are an engineer and long-time marina developer Tony Mair who is also the managing director, barrister Kitt Littlejohn who is also an RMA specialist, Mair's daughter Sarah and a relative, Mark Schmack. They work from offices at Takapuna's Auburn St although Littlejohn has chambers in the city.
Protect Pūtiki is a group including tangata whenua who want marina construction work to stop, partly due to wildlife.
What have the courts said?
In 2016, Auckland Council granted a consent for the marina's construction but SKP appealed that to the Environment Court. It was refused and the consent was upheld. SKP then went to the High Court at Auckland seeking permission for a rehearing in the Environment Court on the basis of having new evidence. The High Court said no. The Court of Appeal also rejected the case as did the Supreme Court. SKP had wanted to go back to the Environment Court but all the courts denied that.
Wellington-based James Gardner-Hopkins was SKP's barrister while Todd Greenwood of Greenwood Law on the island was SKP's solicitor. Gardner-Hopkins was the ex-Russell McVeagh lawyer found guilty by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal of six charges of misconduct for incidents which occurred in the summer 2015.
What happens next?
Kennedy Point Boatharbour is resolute that the rule of law must be upheld, whether that be via a private security contractor or complaints to the police. The protesters are calling for backup numbers, more tents, protest signs, waterproof bags and cell phone chargers. Emily Weiss says Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick and Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson will visit on the weekend.
Littlejohn says his business doesn't condone violence but he vows work will continue: "Once we are satisfied that it is safe to resume work, we will get back under way. Over the next six to eight weeks, the construction crew will be progressing through some of the piling required for the new wharf. All works that will be taking place are in accordance with the project's resource consent conditions and approved construction management plan. None of the programmed works over this period require work on the breakwater, as these piles are all located some distance from it."
But Weiss of the protesters says they are a peaceful group that wants the council or Government to step in.
There appears to be no middle ground between the two.
Any links to other anti-development protests such as Ihūmatao?
On social media, successful tangata whenua Ihūmatao protest leader Pania Newton encouraged the Waiheke protesters to be strong and sent her support and love: "Kia kaha whanau. Kia mataara! Kei reira te aroha me te whakaro," Newton wrote. Both the Weiss group and the Newton group involve iwi and both opposed multi-million dollar property developments, one on the land at Māngere by Fletcher Residential, the latest on the water by Kennedy Point Boatharbour.
What efforts have been made to peacefully negotiate?
Littlejohn: "The company has extended an invitation to representatives of Protect Pūtiki to meet in a controlled environment with the assistance of an independent facilitator. The company remains willing to do this."
But Weiss of Pūtiki Bay has repeatedly said in her videos that wahine were being hurt, protesters being threatened and suffering physical injuries which required medical treatment. She tells a very different story to Littlejohn, one of a peaceful protest group being harassed and injured, their kayaks run over by large equipment, people tipped from boats and suffering at the site.
What involvement have police had?
Protesters have been filming police and are shown arguing with them, requesting their badge numbers and identifying details to lodge complaints.
Littlejohn said: "The company is assisting the police with their inquiries regarding these incidents, along with several other incidents which include vandalism and threats to our construction crew, and will continue working with them to manage the escalating situation."
What threats and abuse are alleged?
Weiss has filmed and posted confrontations and shown footage of protesters being hurt by workers at the site, including being tipped from boats and having equipment run over them while in small kayaks on the water. The face-kicking video released this week seemed the worst of these actions.
Littlejohn has cited "ongoing physical and verbal abuse towards members of the Kennedy Point Marina team, construction crew and their families, as well as acts of vandalism on-site. These incidents are being investigated by the police so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time".
Then there are the workers. A party from that side said today: "I think kicking the protester in the head was way too far and a shocking act but I would like to see a story written about what the workers are put though every day from these so-called peaceful protesters. Workers are under constant harassment every day, physically and mentally. They yell at them and slashing them with their kayak paddles. They are just there to do a job: that's build it, they had nothing to do with the decision to build it."
At least this weekend, no work will be carried out and the bay will return to its formerly more peaceful status.