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Shelly Bay occupiers: “we can wait”

Report from RNZ by Harry Lock
“We are resolute, we can wait.” That’s the message from iwi members and protesters occupying land on Wellington’s Shelly Bay.

Mau Whenua – a group of Taranaki Whanui members – upped the stakes yesterday, serving a trespass notice to property developer the Wellington Company.

When three representatives of the Wellington Company arrived at Shelly Bay, members of Mau Whenua greeted them and handed them the notice. The encounter was filmed and uploaded to social media.

Joshua Parata of Mau Whenua was there. “Our purpose here is a peaceful protest,” Parata said. “We try to maintain that throughout this process of trespassing The Wellington Company. We maintain that we all stay calm. We’re here peacefully. That’s the mana we try [to] hold to.”

In November, the Wellington City Council voted for the sale and lease of land at Shelly Bay to the The Wellington Company. But Mau Whenua disagreed with the sale, and have since been occupying the land. Mau Whenua spokesperson Anaru Mepham has been there from day one.

“We believe that it is our whenua, and that it was illegally sold to The Wellington Company … and we are wanting it returned.”

On Tuesday, an email was sent to Mau Whenua from The Wellington Company. It told them them they needed to “cease and desist”, and remove themselves from the land. The following morning, as Mau Whenua were having a hui to discuss their response, when officials from The Wellington Company arrived on the site. Only to be handed with the trespass notice by Mau Whenua.

“As the occupiers of this whenua, we have rights. And our rights are that we control who comes on or off our property, just as any private landowner would have the right to control who does enter their property and who doesn’t,” Mepham said.

“Until the transaction of this whenua, this dispute, is resolved, we will hold this position.”

They were prepared to stay there for as long as it took. “It leaves us in this place of occupation, and we are firm, we are resolute. We can wait.”

But they were still open to dialogue with The Wellington Company, and its head, Ian Cassels, Mepham said.

“We have quite a strong example of land misappropriation from Parihaka and Waitara in the Taranaki. We know that negotiations are a far better way to deal with these difficult situations than force.”

Mau Whenua said they would deliver an official trespass notice at the company’s office in the coming days.

Ian Cassels did not respond to an RNZ request for comment.

Report from RNZ – January 20
A group of iwi members and protesters contesting the sale of land at Wellington’s Shelly Bay has served a verbal trespass notice to the developer.

The Mau Whenua group has been occupying the land since November, when the Wellington City Council voted to sell and lease part of it.

The coastal land was bought by The Wellington Company which has plans for a development including luxury apartments.

The DomPost reports that the developer this morning served a cease-and-desist warning on the occupiers.

But a company representative was told he was trespassing when he arrived at the Shelly Bay land this morning.

Anaru Mepham of Mau Whenua said the developer needed to slow down as there were still legal issues about the sale which needed to be resolved.

21 comments:

  1. Concerned Wellingtonian, 22. January 2021, 6:58

    I am puzzled that so many of the Wellington councillors who voted to sell our land said it would benefit Maori. Which Maori were they thinking of? How many? Were they Maori who were expecting to buy some of the horrible-looking new houses at very favourable prices because of some deal that had been made? If none of the misguided councillors explains, perhaps we will find out in the Maori Land Court.

     
  2. TrevorH, 22. January 2021, 7:12

    Does the Council have a position or any comment to make on the occupation? It has after all played a considerable role in the whole matter of Shelly Bay, and Council owned land appears to be involved.

     
  3. Claire, 22. January 2021, 10:34

    I am sure this saga will go on for some time. And be a shackle around the necks of this council. Some very foolish decisions have been made by them.

     
  4. Lite Bulb, 22. January 2021, 11:16

    A great point, Concerned Wellingtonian. Much was made by councillors Day and Paul and others about how this was beneficial for Maori but what I see springing up there now is a real Maori community. Flax weaving, harvesting kai moana, carving, looking out for each other.

     
  5. D'Esterre, 23. January 2021, 15:14

    I’m not a fan of the proposed Shelly Bay development, but in fairness to WCC, this project had received an independent consent. Even if the Council had voted against the sale/lease of its land there, the project could still go ahead, albeit with some modifications to the consent.

    “”We believe that it is our whenua, and that it was illegally sold to The Wellington Company … and we are wanting it returned.”” The land was sold to The Wellington Company by the PNBST. From what I’ve seen, those sales were legal. The occupiers may be unhappy with the way in which things were done, but it doesn’t at all follow that the sales were illegal. Moreover, any Council-owned land there belongs to the ratepayers, not to anybody else. The occupiers have no right to be issuing trespass notices in respect of land that they do not own.

     
  6. Claire, 23. January 2021, 16:26

    The fact that Shelly Bay was made a special housing area should have been delved into. This makes it not open to public discussion or submissions. I imagine things may have been different if it had been more transparent.

     
  7. Toni, 23. January 2021, 22:32

    This is an example of a council and developer working together to eliminate the need for public consultation by using the Special Housing Areas legislation which did not really apply to the development. When will WCC learn to treat the public with respect and be transparent instead of creating anger, mistrust and contempt within the community.

     
  8. D'Esterre, 23. January 2021, 23:02

    Claire: “The fact that Shelly Bay was made a special housing area should have been delved into.” That happened during the last term of the National government. If it hadn’t, it seems likely that the end result would have been different. If there’s any way of reversing such situations, I’m not aware of it. I think we in Wellington are stuck with the status quo at Shelly Bay.
    Concerned Wellingtonian: “…the Wellington councillors who voted to sell our land said it would benefit Maori. Which Maori were they thinking of? How many?” This has also puzzled many others. Following that Council meeting, I think that the Councillors who’d said this were challenged by some ratepayers as to what they meant. I don’t recall any satisfactory explanations. It looks as if it was something that they’d been told to say, as justification for changing their votes. They have no clearer idea of who would benefit than do any of the rest of us.

     
  9. Marion Leader, 24. January 2021, 9:10

    D’Esterre, there is a chance that the Judge will find against the Wellington City Council when she gives her ruling on the Judicial Review. This is apparently due in March.
    It will also be interesting to see what the Maori Land Court says.
    This is in response to your comment that you “think we in Wellington are stuck with the status quo at Shelly Bay.”

     
  10. Jamie, 24. January 2021, 16:18

    Either you want more houses or not. If you have someone visiting from outside Wellington ask them what they think about the eye sore that is Shelly Bay and come at it from the perspective that a great community could be built there. That is called progress something that Wellington seems to forget about.

     
  11. D'Esterre, 24. January 2021, 16:26

    Marion Leader: “…there is a chance that the Judge will find against the Wellington City Council when she gives her ruling on the Judicial Review.” It’s complicated. She would be making a ruling on the second resource consent, which was granted in 2019, independently of the Council. I guess that we’ll just have to wait and see what eventuates. But we all need to remember that the major decisions about Shelly Bay were made under the aegis of a former CEO and former mayor. The current Council has been left holding the baby, as it were.

    “It will also be interesting to see what the Maori Land Court says.” It appears that the developer legally owns the land there. Private property rights apply. It’d be perilous territory for the Maori Land Court, were it to challenge legal ownership, I’d have thought.

     
  12. aom, 24. January 2021, 22:21

    D’Esterre: The possibility you seem to disregard is that the land may have been sold illegally as Mau Whenua claim. Isn’t this view also supported by Wira Gardiner who investigated the ownership and voting rights issues? If that is the case, your contention of property rights primacy may be considered by the Court to be improper.

     
  13. Marion Leader, 25. January 2021, 9:09

    D’Esterre, thank you for your helpful comments. However, I think you are falling into a trap when you refer to “the second resource consent (being made) independently of the Council.”
    Firstly, the Commissioners were appointed by the Council itself and it is only propaganda merchants who call them “independent”. Secondly, it was indeed a decision of the Council – and they needn’t have made it.

     
  14. John M, 25. January 2021, 9:35

    I am so pleased this development is being halted by some resolute protestors. Shelly Bay, indeed the whole remaining undeveloped part of the Miramar peninsula, needs rather a rather better holistic vision than “another Sausalito”, the rather ugly enclave of a few wealthy and entitled San Franciscoans. That rules introduced to improve access to housing for those least able to obtain it were used to rush this development through was basically corrupt practice – I strongly concur with Toni. I wish the Maori occupying this are the success that their compatriots in Auckland have achieved at Ihumatao. And this is to say nothing about the serious environmental and traffic concerns related to this development, all glossed over. People go on about the “eyesore” that is the present Shelly Bay. I strongly disagree, it’s a characterful and historical part of the city that hardly intrudes at all against the background of trees and hills. When I ride my bike around this part of Miramar, I could almost be riding along the Coromandel shoreline. This development would be a hugely more intrusive eyesore.

     
  15. Traveller, 25. January 2021, 9:51

    John M. I agree that Shelly Bay is characterful. There’s nothing better on a sunny day than to join the happy crowds having a fish sandwich at the Chocolate Fish, with so many different areas to choose from, with or without harbour views, with or without the wind.

     
  16. Claire, 25. January 2021, 9:58

    Jamie most people don’t want housing at any cost. Remember the road is inadequate and the ratepayers will have to sort that. Not everything is black and white.

     
  17. Richard, 25. January 2021, 20:17

    Councillor Jill Day said the development is to benefit Iwi. Can she please tell us how this will benefit Iwi?

     
  18. J Westerling, 26. January 2021, 6:37

    I would bet that John has never set a foot in “rather ugly” Sausalito. Our little town of 7,000 is rich in history, art, and economic diversity. With most of the village built after the 1908 quake, it is far from a modern “development”. And while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are a few million visitor over the years who have found it quite worth their journey.
    My girlfriend and I enjoyed Shelly Bay in 2018 and hope it doesn’t change too dramatically over the years – just like with Sausalito.

     
  19. D'Esterre, 26. January 2021, 15:06

    Aom: “The possibility you seem to disregard is that the land may have been sold illegally as Mau Whenua claim.” No modern-day lawyer would knowingly act for either party in an illegal land sale. I’m no fan of the Shelly Bay project. But if the whole mess cannot be sorted without creating further injustices, better to leave things as they are.

    Marion Leader: “…the Commissioners were appointed by the Council itself and it is only propaganda merchants who call them “independent”.” It isn’t propaganda. A family member used to work for a local authority (not WCC). Their assessment: even though appointed by the Council, the law requires the commissioners to be independent. Neither Councillors, Council staff, nor the appellant, can approach them. Absent good supporting evidence, I think it wise not to assert lack of independence on their part.

    “Secondly, it was indeed a decision of the Council – and they needn’t have made it.” It was the Court of Appeal which suggested commissioners. Remember that all of this took place under previous management. I don’t know whether you’ve seen this. It’s an illuminating read. For all the wrong reasons. Finagling is the most apposite word that I can think of to describe what’s gone on there. However: it doesn’t at all follow that any of it can be undone. That’s a horse of a completely different colour.

    John M: “…the success that their compatriots in Auckland have achieved at Ihumatao.” For the sake of your own property rights, you’d better hope that there isn’t a similar outcome at Shelly Bay.

     
  20. Dave B, 26. January 2021, 20:26

    Alternatively the present owners and former vendors could admit that their actions have upset the apple-cart and voluntarily move to reverse the transaction. Then everyone would come up smelling of roses instead of excrement.

     
  21. D'Esterre, 26. January 2021, 23:07

    Richard: “Councillor Jill Day said the development is to benefit Iwi. Can she please tell us how this will benefit Iwi?” She can’t because she doesn’t know. And as things stand, iwi cannot benefit. This looks to be something Councillors were told to say, as justification for changing their votes.

    Dave B: “…the present owners and former vendors could admit that their actions have upset the apple-cart and voluntarily move to reverse the transaction.” Lord! Was that a pig that just went overhead? I’m pretty sure that any such outbreak of reasonableness would cost ratepayers considerable sums of money. Whether it goes ahead or not, I fear that we’ll end up paying.