26 Jan 2017

Iwi confronted by residents angry over Point England housing plans

10:07 am on 26 January 2017

An angry Point England resident has accused Ngāti Paoa of hiding behind protocol when questions were raised about its controversial plans for a housing development in the east Auckland suburb.

The area in red will be used for new homes under the plan for the Port England Reserve development.

The area in red will be used for new homes under the plan for the Port England Reserve development. Photo: Supplied

Iwi leaders faced tough questions from residents at the hui in Glen Innes, over its plans to build at least 300 houses on part of the Point England Reserve.

Some called it exciting and an opportunity for a landless iwi to come home, but others called it a huge land sell-off.

The three-hour meeting was tense at times as people raised questions over Ngāti Paoa's deal with the government over the development and fears that local people would be shut out.

Clarissa Kirkwood, who has lived in the area for 66 years, said the housing would not benefit Glen Innes.

"I'm here to represent people of GI [Glen Innes] ,and I know what it's like to be poor."

Chris Barfoot said he sympathised with Ngāti Paoa but also warned that the development would not help many locals wanting to buy houses.

"Those sections in this development are worth $1 million-plus, and this is not exactly helping the people in this area to purchase housing," he said.

As part of its Treaty settlement, the iwi will buy nearly 12ha of Point England Reserve at market price from the Crown to build the houses.

About 120 will be social and affordable, while the other 180 will be private.

But many at the meeting were upset at the loss of public space and feared it would set a precedent for more Auckland reserves to be taken for housing.

"Yes, you need the business development," one woman told iwi leaders. "Yes, you need the houses but pakeha should give you those on land that is free to give, not land that is precious to us, not land that we have a purpose for."

The meeting was also told that people had less than a week to try to change or stop a bill going through Parliament that would enable the reserve to be used for housing.

Submissions on the Point England Development Enabling bill close on 31 January. Two petitions have been launched to either stop the bill or delay it.

130114. Photo Diego Opatowski / RNZ. Generic Housing images. Builders working on a construction.

The iwi plans to build at least 300 houses on part of the Point England Reserve. Photo: RNZ

Iwi leaders were asked last night if they would prefer to build elsewhere, so that the entire 45ha Point England Reserve could be preserved.

However, Ngāti Paoa chief executive Hauāuru Rawiri said the deal had been reached with the government to buy the reserve land.

"In terms of the build, it is what it is, which means that we've agreed to that commercial redress on 11.7ha," Mr Rawiri told the meeting.

At that point a man interjected saying: "Tell the truth, the iwi's not even mentioned in the bill, sir. I'm going to challenge you that are here tonight, come to the public meeting down at the school at 6 o'clock (Friday) and stop hiding behind protocol. All I've heard tonight is a pack of lies."

The meeting ended in a prayer, but many unanswered questions.

Mr Rawiri said after the meeting that the iwi would continue to consult with the community.

Another public meeting will be held on Friday.