Wellington Scoop

Shelly Bay occupiers told to leave council land – asbestos concerns

Two officers of the Wellington City Council met the Mau Whenua occupiers of Shelly Bay yesterday and told them that the council had decided to close the public land at Shelly Bay.

The occupiers were given till 6pm tonight to vacate the council-owned land and to remove personal effects.

Mau Whenua was told that the closure is necessary because of health and safety concerns about asbestos in the soil. The asbestos is likely to have come from water running off the deteriorating asbestos cement roof on the H Block building.

RNZ reports that the group occupying Shelly Bay are remaining on site in spite of the city council’s eviction threat. A spokesperson for Mau Whenua said more people had arrived to hold down the site, and are strictly adhering to covid safety protocols.

Land at Shelly Bay has been occupied by Mana Whenua since November last year, in protest at the sale by the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust.

It is understood that Aoraki Construction will be erecting fencing around the council’s land.

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council has closed an area of Council owned land at Shelly Bay from 6pm today under the Council’s Public Places bylaw, in order to manage the health and safety risks posed by the site. This includes unsafe levels of asbestos contamination in the buildings and soil on the Council’s land.

Council officers met Mau Whenua representatives yesterday and offered an alternative location on public land at Shelly Bay, as a result of the closure.

The Council’s priority is to ensure people are protected from health and safety risks on the public land. This includes being able to control and monitor access to certain public areas at Shelly Bay which may pose a risk to members of the public. The council will also demolish the affected buildings as soon as possible.

The latest asbestos report shows unsafe levels of asbestos in the soil surrounding the Council’s buildings, which is likely to spread further as the buildings continue to deteriorate.

The Council closed these buildings in 2020. In recent months we have become aware that they have been repeatedly accessed and interfered with. We have taken all practicable measures to ensure access is prohibited including re-securing the buildings, putting up warning signs and reminding occupiers of the safety risks. These efforts have been unsuccessful as there is evidence the buildings are still being accessed. The interference with the buildings has increased the risks associated with asbestos contamination and contributed to the Council’s decision to close the area.

closed land at Shelly Bay

The Council owned land in question is highlighted in the map. The Council’s closure of its land does not affect any of the privately owned land at Shelly Bay including the Chocolate Fish café and car park.


  1. Georgina Campbell, 17. November 2021, 16:42

    Mau Whenua has issued a “Red Alert” at Shelly Bay. They’re calling on supporters to join them on the ground as a “force of peaceful resistance”. [via twitter]

  2. Vicki Greco, 17. November 2021, 18:24

    Interesting it took the Council 12 months to determine this…

  3. Kara, 17. November 2021, 19:16

    This sounds like an underhanded method to get the Mau Whenua protesters off the site. How come asbestos has only just been discovered?

  4. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 17. November 2021, 22:31

    Regardless of your views on Shelly Bay, it’s a bit odd that this cropped up precisely at the time that the developers wanted to get occupancy of the land. [via twitter]

  5. Marion Leader, 18. November 2021, 6:13

    Where is the nearest little blue penguins’ nest?

  6. sue, 18. November 2021, 9:33

    Marion, the nests are under the building that has asbestos and is to be fenced off; my understanding is that the developer’s contractors are coming in today to erect the fence.

  7. Tape deck, 18. November 2021, 10:43

    Yeah convenient that this is suddenly an issue now. Council working hand in glove with the developers. They should have removed the asbestos roof years ago instead of letting it deteriorate; someone should prosecute them for endangering the public.

  8. Lance L., 18. November 2021, 10:52

    Absolutely ridiculous, WCC employees creating a “safety hazard” as an excuse to turf out protestors at the behest of the developer. This sort of action by the WCC does nothing but hurt the local community and breed cynicism. Good on Andy Foster, Sean Rush, Sarah Free, and a few other councilors for trying to bring a bit of reason into the whole thing with their motion to the CEO of WCC – she has overreached, and needs to be reined in on this one.

  9. bssmith, 18. November 2021, 13:33

    If Ihumato had been dealt with properly, this would have never have happened. Where next ?

  10. Lois McNaught, 18. November 2021, 13:37

    The buildings in question have been like that for over 35 years. It was the Council’s responsibility to maintain the whole Shelly Bay Complex including the wharf. Instead they let it deteriorate to the condition it is now in. Yes they have caused this public endangerment and should be sued as such. I agree such a coincidence that their CE is stating asbestos now. Interesting also that Aoraki Construction have appointed one of their Maori Kaimahi to mediate with Mau Whenua onsite right now.

  11. Casey, 18. November 2021, 13:54

    The WCC has been irresponsible in ignoring this known issue for years. When it was an Air Force base, there were asbestos-insulated steam pipes running throughout the area. When that system was dismantled, it was likely the precautions taken today were not followed. If the area is deemed a hazard then it must be made safe without delay.

  12. Cynthia McConville, 18. November 2021, 14:10

    It is the penguin nesting season. Fencing off the site ? What actions have Council taken to ensure birds can access nests and chicks to feed them if the penguins are nesting under buildings there?

  13. Marlon Dajevic, 18. November 2021, 15:13

    From my experience working in a building with asbestos, there is no danger from asbestos if the cladding roofing or ceiling is left undisturbed and is not breaking down. The council need to learn they do NOT own it – the ratepayers own it. The job we all pay them for is to act in the best interest of all of us. They are not our lords or Barons, they are our employees and should respect that fact.

  14. Hel, 18. November 2021, 19:40

    Sounds like the Council CEO came up with a brilliant strategy to remove the protesters peacefully but then for it to unravel immediately.