Veteran resigns Unitary Plan, forum roles in disgust over attempt to weaken clout

A proposal to weaken the Hauraki Gulf Forum's influence on future planning yesterday prompted veteran Auckland politician Christine Fletcher to quit in disgust from two positions in gulf leadership.

The former Auckland Mayor and Epsom MP and present Auckland Council member said she could no longer represent the council on the forum, nor on the working party for the Auckland Unitary Plan.

Mrs Fletcher, who is the forum's deputy leader, said she was perplexed by the council's consideration of a "demeaning" structure for the gulf's $1.8 million spatial plan project steering group - it should stick with the forum leadership which had taken 12 years to build.

The council debated - but deferred taking a vote until next month - a proposal for a steering group of 26 Maori representatives and 26 representatives of councils and government agencies, such as the Ministry of Primary Industries.


The steering or leadership group of 52 would be in addition to a stakeholder forum (of 200 representatives), an expert advisory group and a project team.

Earlier, Mrs Fletcher seconded an unsuccessful move by councillor Mike Lee for a spatial plan project steering group made up from the existing gulf forum, expert advisory group and project team.

She said the spatial plan had been promoted by the gulf forum, which included councils for the Waikato, Hauraki Plains and Coromandel.

But she no longer believed it would make the hoped-for improvements in the environment of the gulf's fish and birds, nor solve the conflict between conservation and farming and fishing.

"We have been hijacked by other agendas around Treaty [of Waitangi] settlements and why we haven't been able to get a consensus here today is not necessarily around the ongoing stewardship of the gulf."

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said the topic was deferred until next month to allow talks with the Hauraki Gulf Forum and Maori.

Guidance from the council's Independent Maori Statutory Board members would be sought on the question of an appropriate partnership.