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Significant natural angst

designated SNA SNA areas in purple.

by Ian Apperley
A while back, a low muttering started in rural parts of New Zealand as the Significant Natural Area (SNA) framework appeared. It’s an example of an unworkable, untenable, nanny-state, sledgehammer at work, piece of poorly thought-out legislation.

To city-folk, it was just the farmers moaning again; after all, having an SNA designated on our land would stop us from chopping down native bush and turning it into dairy, forestry, or something else.

But over the last three weeks, city-folk have been getting a taste of what it is like to live rurally as they wake up to the fact that SNAs are going to impact at least 1,700 properties across Wellington, potentially spoiling their suburban dream.

And, in typical Wellington fashion, they’ve started protesting and petitions, none of which is likely to help at all. While other Councils have pushed back and thrown some of this stuff out, the Wellington City Council is doggedly pushing on with its rich, green, wheelbarrow of policy.

There is a cruel irony that the city-slickers thought this was a rural issue, only to find out that it is now, literally, right in their backyard. We have known this for months, and this is not the only piece of “farming” legislation that is going to cost you dearly, just like us.

Because there is only a six-wire fence between city and rural.

Let’s step back a bit.

SNAs have been around for a while, since 1991, forming part of the Resource Management Act (RMA.) They refer to “the protection of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna”, or SNA.

Of course, like all legislation, it is based on interpretation, and the definition of significant, now thirty years down the track, still really hasn’t been defined. It’s flared up again because of the government’s new policy statements around the area, and, because in a year or so, it will be put in place.

Even though no one has ever figured out what significant means, it hasn’t stopped some Councils from going hell for leather and draft-designating a whole bunch of stuff as an SNA. Some Councils don’t have to participate in this process, some won’t, Maori are as mad as hell about it up north, and it all just goes to prove the process is a policy shambles.

No one is arguing with the intent of the law to protect natural environments, which are dwindling, but the heavy-handed rule-making around it is alienating everyone. Some landowners in Wellington have been saying they will clear their backyards before the SNA kicks into action in force.

Unintended consequences then.

Another reason that SNAs are important is that the government is allowing the sale of massive tracts of New Zealand to foreign interests so they can plant pine trees to feel better about driving a battery-powered car that was created from slave labour in the Congo, amongst other places, and to get over the guilt of the ruined lives and massive environmental destruction that practice has created.

OK, that was sarcastic; the real reason is to create carbon sinks and participate in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Those large companies will make a great deal of money out of making farmland redundant while you will increasingly pay overheads to meet emission rules.

In the last three years, it’s estimated that a land area the size of Wellington City from the Eastern Suburbs to the West Coast and up to Porirua has been sold for pine forests. That’s an astounding lot of land that will never see native bush again or productive, regenerative farms that can sequester carbon more efficiently with less environmental destruction.

But, the ETS, another subject, is such a blunt tool that it only counts trees as carbon hoarders, not any other practice or technology.

Left hand, right hand, left party, right party, ideological scatology at its worst.

Back to Wellington City. They’ve just figured out SNAs are going to apply to them as well.

I’m going to oversimplify it, but effectively it introduces caveats on to the land designated SNA, along with a bunch of rules. The first rule might be that you can’t cut down or manage any native trees unless it is safety-related. The second rule could be, you can’t plant anything on the land that is not native.

Oh, and forget ever developing there. That back section with a few trees on it you were saving for retirement, to subdivide off, and you know, add some more housing to a city that has none? Nope. No chance. Sure, you can apply for resource consent, but that’s going to cost you more than your now devalued land.

You can also try and get the SNA lifted, but your chances are very, very low at the cost of $25,000 or more.

And it will devalue the land; I have seen figures by as much as 30%.

There are other rules, particularly around fencing, potentially around pest management; god help you if you have water running through your property or anything designated a wetland, you’re up for significant costs.

In Wellington City, the protests have started. The petitions have started. The land clearing before the SNA gets put into force has started.

The language has started:

The SNA initiative is poorly conceived, unlawful and unconstitutional, and its progression has been marked by relentless deceit… The process has been dishonest and devious from conception to implementation… The SNA policy shows a callous disregard for the loss incurred by homeowners and occupiers… The Policy is flawed in its conception…

The rural community is like, “Hold my beer.”

There is no rural divide. This patchwork Frankenstein of legislation with all of its good intentions is a monster that is going to wreak havoc, and it hits at the heart of every New Zealander by saying, “We don’t trust you to do the right thing, and we know better.”

There are some lessons here:

It’s not about location; it’s about land. That transcends rural and city boundaries.

It’s not the only proposed legislation being cooked up; there is more to come; Three Waters is an excellent example of another cross-divide piece of ill-thought-out intent.

95% of people want to preserve the land, let it grow, heal, retain native biodiversity and participate in programmes like pest control to help with that. And, most people do have a hand in that somehow, as I’ve written before.

There are already measures in place to protect and prosecute when necessary; someone was jailed due to these this week.

The unintended consequences with the SNA are likely to see less biodiversity as some owners seek to clear the land before it is enacted.

How will they manage it? The costs will be enormous and given the Council has probably two officers in charge of flora and fauna, impossible to police.

You can access the Wellington SNA map here.

Now, I won’t have got this all exactly correct, so please feel free to correct me in the comments. It’s complicated, and the more you dig, the more complex it becomes. I am not suggesting that we do not put protections in place, I am suggesting that there are better ways to do it.

Postscript: A note on Shelly Bay. Despite SNA being designated all around Shelly Bay, it is not assigned an SNA even though there is significant natural biodiversity there, including little blue penguins. I guess it might go to show if you have friends with deep pockets, the SNA might not apply to you.

You can read more from Ian Apperley on his new rural blog.

50 comments:

  1. Conor, 1. December 2021, 15:16

    If you’re worried about rules that stop you from doing even minor things on your own land (put in a kitchen so grandma can be self contained), wait till you hear about District Plans.

     
  2. Ian Apperley, 1. December 2021, 17:01

    Conor, do you know if the SNA trumps the District Plan?

     
  3. Conor, 1. December 2021, 19:08

    In short yep. As far as I can see a District Plan is (amongst other things) a giant list of how a council has interpreted some of the many rules in the RMA – SNAs, the 5 separate NPSs, NESs, etc. Plus a whole bunch of other restrictions councils put in place just for fun. Though a lot of the angst aimed at councils is misdirected, as so much of what they do is just doing the govt’s work.
    SNAs are similar to “character” suburb designations and a tonne of other zoning rules which also restrict what you can do on your own private property.

     
  4. Sky, 1. December 2021, 20:00

    Ian, the new District Plan references and includes the SNAs.
    On one end, it was up to them a long time ago to develop a district plan to promote the growth of wealth, culture, nature, services. But they never could come up with ideas that *promote* our moving towards these objectives. Only a poor value heavy-handed plan to *stop* you from doing things. Protect sounds good. But it’s nothing compared to good planning for the enrichment of nature, services, culture, values.
    And stopping of your being able to do good on your land is simply called larceny. It’s theft for lack of a higher value plan.

     
  5. Robert, 1. December 2021, 22:44

    The area around the tip is SNA??

     
  6. TrevorH, 2. December 2021, 7:08

    Thanks Ian. So this is how those who went the extra mile to plant and protect native flora are to be treated? SNAs are theft, plain and simple. The urban/rural divide promoted by some politicians just evaporated.

     
  7. Barbara McKenzie, 2. December 2021, 7:55

    The SNAs are part of the District Plan, and will come into force along with the District Plan mid-2022.

    In 2019 during (under cover of?) the local elections, the WCC began its SNA rollout by “notifying” owners of affected private properties. The letter was sent out on pretty paper, offering to help people look after their “Backyard Taonga”. The implication of loss of rights and value was glossed over and most people ignored it. On inquiry, WCC,the Regional Council, and major players Forest & Bird all confirmed that the legal basis for the programme was Section 6 (c) of the RMA, which states that relevant authorities “shall recognise and provide for the following matters of national importance:[…](c) the protection of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant …”

    Essentially the RMA provides for the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes, of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and of significant habitats, while acknowledging the importance of “the social, economic, and cultural well-being” of people and their communities. There is nothing in the act which authorises the expropriation of regenerating bush, scrub, garden shrubbery, wood sheds and lawn on private land for open-ended rewilding.

    In July of this year, I formed WSNAC (Wellington SNA Committee) and called a public meeting, addressed by the Mayor Andy Foster. The hall was packed with angry people, most of whom had been completely unaware of the policy and what it meant for their properties. Andy Foster failed to address any of the concerns voiced, much to the frustration of the audience:

    “We haven’t come to be harangued on the environment – everyone here is an environmentalist. What we want to talk about now is your confiscation of property rights.”

    Diane Calvert and Andy Foster proposed that another letter be sent to owners with a fuller explanation. Council officers dragged their feet, and in the meantime I emailed Councillors and residents associations, with practically no response. In September, WSNAC wrote to most of the relevant addresses in the whole of the city, and again there was a shocked response from many. Then finally the Council wrote to the affected parties; the letter made a good fist of informing people, and I suspect we have Diane Calvert to thank for that.

    There has been no effort to advise the general public of the policy, and most people haven’t a clue (a recent leaflet drop throughout the city may have an impact). People need to understand that it’s not just 1700 properties, but that the policy is open-ended – they may not care about their neighbour’s rights, but it could be them next.

    “We will restore these areas, create safe buffer zones around them and connect them together.” (Our Natural Capital: Wellington’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, approved by the Council in 2015)

     
  8. Ian Apperley, 2. December 2021, 9:07

    Thanks Conor & Sky. Good lord, new homeowners are going to have to be issued with a Book of Rules when they move in. Not that anyone can afford to buy anything!

     
  9. Matt Long, 2. December 2021, 10:18

    Dear Wellington property owners: welcome to the world of SNAs. You will really need to get proactive with your Council if you want something workable, and just when you think you have worked the issues through they’ll be back for more, much more.
    Kind regards, Rural Whangarei.

     
  10. pedge, 2. December 2021, 10:28

    I agree with the statement “it’s an example of an unworkable, untenable, nanny-state, sledgehammer at work, piece of poorly thought-out legislation”. However, anyone who thinks chopping down your trees is a reasonable response to this is acting like a child. Fight it by all means but leave the trees alone.

     
  11. Helene Ritchie, 2. December 2021, 11:26

    I agree with Pedge. Leave the trees alone but fight whatever you need to fight. There will be few enough trees once the RMA enabling bill (suburban medium density) is enacted, plus the District plan, plus plus. This is why you/we need access to a hard copy of the District Plan which according to some contributors is not even available in libraries as a reference document.

    This is not the only issue either. The Council could readily ensure instead or as well as some SNAs that all road reserve (a significant green belt throughout our City, some planted) … be protected from car decks or developers (or Council road builders) in future? That would have to be added to the District Plan as a proposal from the public.

    The devil is in the detail of the draft plan; and there is much.. In my opinion the public has been denied the ability to comprehensively grasp the enormity and totality of the impact of the draft district plan on our city and our lives.

     
  12. Andrew, 2. December 2021, 12:31

    Protection of significant natural areas via rules in district plans has been around for decades. There have been plenty of Environment Court cases which have confirmed the need for such rules, and on what ‘significant’ means.

     
  13. Jane Hurley, 2. December 2021, 18:52

    Point taken, Andrew, and since virtually the entirety of my mother’s section has been designated an SNA, one can only thank God for the Council foresight that will now protect the integrity of the significant and important indigenous biodiversity of the concrete path down to her front door and flowerbeds on either side, the camellia hedge my late dad planted, the 100-year-old rhododendrons planted by the first residents of her suburb, the sunny vegie patch where my dad grew his beefsteak tomatoes and runner beans etc etc. No one wants to chop their trees down but it is already happening in the neighbourhood, this is what happens when you incentivize the removal of the bush (as quickly as possible) and punish those who have cherished it on their sections for their whole lives (in my parents’ case, 57 years) by — well, frankly, stealing it, without paying a cent in compensation. With the finely added psychological torture that, if you chop down your beloved bush before this appalling policy comes in, you will retain control over your land, just like all the other residents who have chopped down their bush over the years to put in driveways, extend their houses, subdivide, put in granny flats and sleepouts, put in garden sheds, or whatever else they’ve done, but if you cannot bring yourself to raze the bush then wave goodbye to that land you’ve cherished anyway because it can no longer by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as yours — except that you will still hold the title deeds, may still be paying off the mortgage on it, and will still be paying rates on it year after year, as well as acting as unpaid labour for the council since I note they are expecting us to still take care of any actual maintenance. BTW, I also note that resource consents will NOT be required to remove any indigenous vegetation if you’re planning to put public walkways and cycleways through your glorious little patch of privacy. No doubt, once all these areas HAVE been joined together, this will be the next step, so that all those forced to live in the concrete jungle parts of Wellington, also as per the plan, will be able to have access to the glorious backyards and gardens of — well, of Wellingtonians. Meanwhile, all the concrete and cement being used to build this wonderful new world of urban density will add significantly to our CO2 emissions, since 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions come from concrete, ahead of aviation fuel (only 2.5%) and not far behind global agriculture (12%). As Ian points out though, if you ARE the council, not only are you entitled, it seems, to continue this country’s deplorable and appalling historic habit of stealing people’s land and alienating them from their mana whenua, to do so without ever having put that policy to the people who elected you, and to at the same time sell off your OWN valuable land to developers to build luxury housing.

     
  14. TrevorH, 2. December 2021, 20:37

    Andrew: that may be so but expropriation of private property by stealth is a recent development for the Wellington City Council. It must be stopped.

     
  15. Conor, 2. December 2021, 22:27

    May I ask why people are so up in arms about this specific thing? Almost everything in a District Plan could be classed as expropriation of private property by stealth. The rules that say you can’t do what you want on the front of your section, or 2 storeys up in the air, or at your side boundary. The rules which limit how many homes (though not people) can be on your section. The “character” designations that lock up 90% of inner suburban Wellington. None of these things are God given, and were in all instances created well after Wellington was settled.

     
  16. aom, 3. December 2021, 7:21

    Could you provide some more detail Jane? What has made the section a SNA? It sure isn’t a place of endemic biodiversity from the description provided in your comment.

     
  17. Julienz, 3. December 2021, 10:07

    Conor, are you advocating for a Houston type situation with no zoning at all?

     
  18. Claire, 3. December 2021, 11:58

    Julienz: a civilised enlightened society has zoning to protect its citizens from a mean miserable sunless cramped life.
    Ian: this map is not clear. It looks like most of Newtown right to Island bay is a SNA.

     
  19. Jane Hurley, 3. December 2021, 13:20

    Aom, my point is that while there is indeed bush on my mother’s section, which she and my father have always cherished, the SNA designation (which is done from aerial photographs) includes virtually the WHOLE of her section, including all the ridiculous parts mentioned, and I am not alone in this.
    Conor: a house and section is most people’s major financial asset and they pay off the mortgage thinking that, if they manage to save nothing else extra over their lifetime, this will be their financial security and if they ever need to sell it in their elderly years to provide for them then, they can. The asset basically IS the land. I have no problem at all with those other rules, they seem eminently reasonable to me and protect all of us. However, in my mother’s case, this SNA swallows up the entirety of her land value and virtually the entirety of her financial asset. (The house itself is small and very modest.) If it were only 5% or 10% or even 15% of my mother’s section, we might be grumbling in private in principle but it wouldn’t be the enormous blow to my mother’s and my whole family’s finances that this is. More importantly, it is punishing those who have actually cared for the bush and incentivizing those who get rid of it as soon as possible. Also, at 85, to tell her she can’t plant whatever she wants from the garden centre in her own flowerbeds (I’m not talking noxious weeds here) is frankly a bit much. Expropriation of actual land is not the same as sensible restrictions and by-laws that help us all to live together happily and reasonably. Ask the iwi.

     
  20. Jane Hurley, 3. December 2021, 14:53

    Claire, I can’t speak for Ian but this looks to me like the actual map from the Draft District Plan with the SNA overlay in (the Council’s) purple. If it is, then this is what the Council is working from. To find if a particular property is affected, you need to type in the address on the district plan here, which will outline the section, and tick the box for the SNA overlay on the left-hand-side menu, which then appears in purple. This will show you if the property is affected by an SNA and how much of the property is affected.

     
  21. Claire, 3. December 2021, 16:27

    Jane: I do hope your issues can be helped. It is abhorrent to me and is a flat out land grab.

     
  22. Jane Hurley, 3. December 2021, 21:13

    Thank you, Claire.

     
  23. Ray Chung, 4. December 2021, 0:21

    Excellent summation Jane! It was great meeting and chatting with you and your brother at the ORCA meeting on Tuesday night. Did you send me a message earlier? I thought it popped up on my screen but I can’t find it?

     
  24. Jane Hurley, 4. December 2021, 12:57

    It was really good to meet you too, Ray. No, no message, sorry.

     
  25. D'Esterre, 7. December 2021, 14:40

    Ian Apperley: I’d also noticed the lack of a SNA in Shelly Bay. Given that a number of properties hereabouts have been designated, despite their potential for development, I suspect that Shelly Bay is illustrative of WCC’s having made a pig’s ear of the designation process. The experience of Jane Hurley’s mother, as described above, while extreme, isn’t unique.

    I agree with you regarding SNAs in rural areas. However: there’s the issue of proportion. It depends upon how much of a rural block has been designated. It’s one thing to have designated the gully behind the house, which is still bush-clad because it’s too steep for farming. But it’s quite another if designated areas are a significant proportion of the landholding. The problems with wetland designations are discussed in this article.

    In suburbs such as our one, where sections aren’t huge, the proportion of land designated can be very large, as we’ve seen above. This is catastrophic for owners. And it’s an inescapable fact that the SNA designations are expropriation: a land grab. In my view, the intrinsic issue here is the undermining of private property rights. For the life of me, I don’t understand why the WCC is persisting with this process, when other Councils have postponed or even abandoned it. I think that we’re justified in concluding that, at least in this suburb, we’re being punished for the sin of being older and owning properties in a leafy suburb.

    Helene Ritchie: it may well be that there won’t be fewer trees, just fewer native trees. And if the WCC is hellbent on nabbing people’s land, it makes sense to fell the pittosporum, mahoe, ponga, kowhai and kawakawa, and replace them with rhododendrons (which do very well here), or flowering cherries, camellias, elderberry or oaks/elms. The native fauna doesn’t care: it’ll live among them just the same. And if people are concerned about exotic species self-seeding, they might want to take a look at the extent to which native species seed themselves all over this area.

     
  26. Julienz, 7. December 2021, 19:32

    This is an example of a supposed SNA in Khandallah: “The stand comprises the following indigenous species: hangehange (Geniostoma ligustrifolium), kawakawa (Piper excelsum subsp. excelsum), kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile), māhoe (Melicytus ramiflorus), māpou (Myrsine australis), ngaio (Myoporum laetum), ponga (Cyathea dealbata), rangiora (Brachyglottis repanda).”

    From my experience as a gardener I would say all of these plants, with perhaps the exception of the ponga, rapidly self replicate if ignored. It appears owners of the land are being punished for failing to keep on top of their weeding.

     
  27. aom, 8. December 2021, 9:46

    Julienz, from the viewpoint of a volunteer who has spent well over a decade doing endemic restoration work on a Council reserve, it is evident that your cynical analysis shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of the regenerative process. Perhaps it is best for gardeners to stick to tending flowerbeds?

     
  28. D'Esterre, 8. December 2021, 10:19

    Julienz: “It appears owners of the land are being punished for failing to keep on top of their weeding.” Haha, very apt! With regard to ponga, in this area they self-seed all over the place. As do kowhai and cabbage trees. And kaka beaks (clianthus). And pretty much any other seeds, windblown or brought by the birds. Some years ago, we found a self-seeded wineberry, growing in an entirely inappropriate place on our property. We had a wineberry in Auckland: they grow to an enormous size. Definitely not suitable for small suburban gardens.

    Matt Long: “…just when you think you have worked the issues through they’ll be back for more, much more.” Please: tell us about your experience up there, so that we may be prepared. There’s a local person who comments on blogsites, and who has remarked that we cannot trust the Council here, and must not turn our backs on it. Sounds like something similar up that way.

     
  29. D'Esterre, 8. December 2021, 10:39

    aom: I note that the work you’ve been doing has been on a Council reserve. No one would quarrel with that: it’s exactly where such endeavours should be undertaken. But what we’re talking about here is private property, and the WCC’s intention to expropriate it. That is theft. Look again at Jane Hurley’s account of her mother’s situation: that’s extreme. It’s outright wrong for the WCC to be grabbing her property, or anybody else’s for that matter. There’s no justification for it: the section of the RMA being relied on doesn’t in fact allow it to do this.

    This is supposed to be a representative democracy, in which private property rights are protected. What the WCC is attempting to do here undermines that democracy.

    “…it is evident that your cynical analysis shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of the regenerative process.” Best not to assume that you’ve cornered the market in botanical knowledge.

     
  30. Julienz, 8. December 2021, 14:17

    Aom – I understand the regenerative process and I applaud it on public land. Well done to you and the many other volunteers, myself among them, who have worked to restore natives around the city. Trelissick Park is a testament to such efforts. My objection is to the forcing of regeneration of non-threatened species on private land. The perverse outcome of this policy is that it may well lead to many landowners avoiding having indigenous plants on their properties at all.

     
  31. Steve, 8. December 2021, 20:18

    Unfortunately the only thing SNAs will protect is the WCC from litigation by Forest and Bird. Anyone who thinks that creating SNAs on private land with unworkable rules (as provided by the WCC in the draft district plan) will result in protection of our native bush is dreaming. All SNAs do is destroy landowner goodwill and punish people who have done the right thing.

     
  32. aom, 9. December 2021, 6:20

    Julie, the original comment still stands. While not interested in the SNA debate, the only observation would be to suggest that those who feel aggrieved should get out the brush cutters and chainsaws immediately! The odds are that so few will do it that the slowly establishing ecological corridors and islands will not be significantly compromised. At a guess, one might opine that some owners of SNA designated sites purchased properties because of the vegetation. The disposing of the endemic ‘weeds’ that you listed will make it less likely that the natural seed banks of the endemics that regeneration volunteers are attempting to re-establish will in general, be of much value.

    By the way, do you know of a retail source of Wellington native seedlings? It seems few stockists have few if any eco-sourced plants.

    D’Esterre – having a viewpoint does not equate with ‘cornering the market’. Should one suggest you, of all people, stop corresponding because you express points of view?

     
  33. Alf the Aspirational Apteryx, 9. December 2021, 9:15

    The first chainsaw of the morning has started up across the valley. People know any submission they make on the District Plan will be ignored…

     
  34. Julienz, 9. December 2021, 13:11

    Aom: Many native seedlings turn up in my garden and I judiciously decide which can stay and which go. There are only so many kowhai, pittosporum etc that I can fit. When I have time I pot up extras and give them away via Neighbourly. I mostly purchase natives from Leacroft at Pauatahanui. I have not asked them to explain their seed sources so I am sorry can’t answer your question. I can say the plants they supply are well adapted to Wellington conditions. I have tūī, kākā , kererū and piwakawaka (with the occasional kotare and once a karearea) in my garden so I hazard a guess I and my neighbours in Khandallah might be doing something right. I appreciate you are coming from a different perspective. My point is that until now we have not needed the intervention of council in our individual gardens to nurture nature in our neighbourhood. My concern with SNAs is that some who feel aggrieved whether or not their land is affected by an SNA designation will indeed get out the brush cutters and chainsaws, thereby defeating the intention of the designations. In my view consultation, collaboration, cooperation and in some cases appropriate compensation will almost always trump compulsion.

     
  35. D'Esterre, 9. December 2021, 23:28

    aom: “…not interested in the SNA debate…” That’s a pity, because it involves the expropriation of private property. This ought to concern all of us who are property-owners here. Our properties may be next, depending upon what other schemes WCC dreams up. Though maybe you don’t own property here.

    “…some owners of SNA designated sites purchased properties because of the vegetation.” Ha! That was Eugenie Sage’s defence last year. And it’s equally implausible. There may be a few such cases, but owners would have bought in full awareness of the designation. So they in no way justify the situation in Wellington, where owners have had this proposal sprung on them. I’m betting that there are still property-owners who have no idea about it, or about the implications.

    Steve: “All SNAs do is destroy landowner goodwill and punish people who have done the right thing.” Exactly. Other Councils – even GWRC – have recognised the importance of landowners’ willing cooperation. No surprises that the WCC apparently hasn’t. It’s the complete disregard for citizens’ private property rights that I think is so appalling. We can be forgiven for concluding that it doesn’t care a toss about its ratepayers. And after this experience, it can be assured that the feeling is mutual.

     
  36. aom, 10. December 2021, 13:59

    D’Esterre, the reason for not being interested in the SNA debate is that I am tired of exaggerations about theft of people’s property. One would be less laid back if land titles were issued for SNA areas and these areas were by some perverse means legally confiscated. However, if one wants to develop, subdivide or increase the size of a residence, it is understood that these options are not precluded. Regrettably, the Council does not have the capacity to work with owners to help enhance the vegetation of such areas.

    One of the joys of having owned a large northern suburbs property was divesting it of Japanese Honesuckle, Tradescatia and all other manner of nasties, then fostering a natural regeneration of the endemic vegetation. There was a sense of pride in that probably about 40% of the site was designated a SNA. Contrary to your views, some people find satisfaction in being a caretaker for future owners rather than self-absorbed in personal ownership rights.

     
  37. D'Esterre, 10. December 2021, 16:08

    aom: it’s very sad to read your piece. The lack of empathy for others is of a piece with the WCC’s attitude. It is one thing to set aside land for protection: to have it taken without one’s say-so is quite another. And that’s essentially what’s happened to many unfortunate residents hereabouts. Read again Jane Hurley’s account of her mother’s situation. This is extreme, but not unique. Many residents have lost significant portions of their properties, and often there’s little in the way of native flora on the land which has been expropriated. Expropriation of land is wrong. It has always been wrong and remains so, no matter how well-intentioned the reasons for it may be.

    In my view, residents need to rally around those affected, in an attempt to persuade WCC to change its stance. They need to do this because it is the right thing to do. Though there is an instrumental reason for going into bat for affected residents: next time, it could be any of the rest of us, if the WCC dreams up some other scheme.

     
  38. Jane Hurley, 10. December 2021, 16:21

    Aom, as I understand it, these options are indeed effectually precluded. One will have to apply for a resource consent to remove any of the indigenous vegetation to develop, subdivide or increase the size of a residence and since the whole purpose of an SNA is to protect these areas in perpetuity, one can pretty well imagine that no resource consent will be granted. You are lucky that your economic situation enables you to regard the SNA designation with equanimity. Some of us do not have that privilege. Furthermore, if land titles were issued for SNA areas and they were “legally” confiscated, one would at least have the chance to fight it out in the courts for compensation, although I do not see how land titles could possibly be duplicated for private land that already has titles and deeds associated with it.

     
  39. Mavis, 10. December 2021, 18:04

    One of the problems of the way the draft District Plan is set out, is that it encourages people to focus only on their own property. You can search your own property but try searching something other than that….

    But who, in the absence of a functional City Council, is concerned about the city, city wide, 20 years hence, and how on earth would one get a handle on the totality, or even on specific issues that affect the collective, the city as a whole..and all in 5 weeks?

     
  40. Claire, 10. December 2021, 20:12

    Mavis: most of us are writing long emails saying what is wrong with the DDP. Pick a few issues and go for it.

     
  41. Lisa Andersen, 11. December 2021, 2:12

    I haven’t read all the comments I must admit but I would like to throw in that I live in Wellington but was brought up in rural Southern Hawkes Bay where most of my family still lives and you are right about the prime farmland being bought by foreigners to put pine on so their carbon footprint is counteracted, and it’s out of control. With everything being about Covid 19, it’s slipping by and people don’t realise what’s going on and how devastating it is and will continue to be for decades.
    You can’t blame the people selling it to them when they are offered a zillion dollars more, if they don’t take it someone else will buy it and then sell on to them anyway so it may as well be them. Don’t blame the player, blame the game kind of thing. It’s a crying shame I don’t think people understand it all down here in the city. I’m glad you do and have mentioned it.
    Heres a link to “50 shades of Green.” These people are trying to do something and deserve (& need) support.

     
  42. M, 11. December 2021, 10:32

    Was shocked when I went for a drive in the Wairarapa where I grew up. What triggered the drive was overhearing a conversation in the pub about concern about the intensity of the pine tree planting and that these trees were not going to be cut down. So off we went to see for ourselves…omg. It was worse than I imagined. The newly planted trees were closely planted. Very close to the stream and farm house. Mind you, looked as if the farm house was no longer lived in. And there was farm after farm with these pine trees.
    So why not fix the carbon tax mess instead of creating a policy to try and put it right at the expense of everyday New Zealanders.
    Layers and layers of policy. It’s like each policy counteracts the other. Can’t even imagine the cost to everyone or legal fees trying to implement contradicting policies with exemptions for property developers. And councils that sign off on developments that are built boundary to boundary. Wot a fiasco. And no compromise?

     
  43. Julienz, 11. December 2021, 15:31

    Tim Brown had a good article on Newsroom on this issue entitled “Pining for more profitable and sustainable native forests.” If we are going to plant forever forests, then they must be diverse indigenous forests not pine or eucalyptus monocultures.

     
  44. Miles, 14. December 2021, 20:44

    “We will restore these areas, create safe buffer zones around them and connect them together.” That concept is straight out of Agenda 21 from the 1992 Rio Sustainability Conference. Auckland had Agenda 21 on its website many years ago.
    If you want a fright about land, read Agenda 21. Joining SNAs so wildlife can roam free is what it is all about. The solution is democracy. Think again if you think you live in one now. A gentleman’s democracy existed 50 years ago. That was lost. We are now in the despotic elite autocracy era – unless you do something about it.

     
  45. Jane Hurley, 14. December 2021, 22:49

    I have absolutely no problem with wildlife roaming free on my mum’s section. It’s the public roaming free on her section that I’m worried about. Wildlife corridors are no problem at all.

     
  46. jim, 15. December 2021, 11:05

    Miles – sounds fine by me. “A gentleman’s democracy existed 50 years ago” – you’re right about that, great times if you were a white straight man. Not so good for anyone else.

     
  47. D'Esterre, 15. December 2021, 12:07

    Jane Hurley: “It’s the public roaming free on her section that I’m worried about.” Exactly right, and you have good reason to be worried. The endemic wildlife of NZ is either winged and doesn’t need “corridors”, or it’s wingless, inhabits a smallish area (our garden, eg) and doesn’t travel great distances. On the other hand, such corridors would speed the passage of introduced pests, about which conservationists are so exercised: goats, pigs, deer, along with possums, cats and rodents.

    Jim: “…great times if you were a white straight man.” It isn’t clear what this has to do with the subject. But in any event, NZ is supposed to be a representative democracy. That’s the best hope for all of us here, no matter our origins, skin colour or sex/sexual orientation.

     
  48. D'Esterre, 15. December 2021, 16:56

    And speaking of pest animals, there are these which unfortunately have been found in the Wellington area. We certainly don’t want them on our walkways.

     
  49. M, 17. December 2021, 20:54

    How ironic, WCC and the government having to create SNA policy because of their failure to protect properties’ green space in the draft plan. And bigger failure: the need to buy land for a park in Taranaki St due to the need of space where intensified buildings have resulted in no outdoor space. Townhouses in the old Ford car sales yard … but no outdoor area.

     
  50. D'Esterre, 18. December 2021, 13:27

    M: it is truly farcical. Clochemerle without the humour, although maybe it’s black comedy.
    [Comments on this topic are now closed, as we’ve reached the maximum that our system can hold.]