Submission on Tūpuna Maunga Authority’s 2023/2024 draft operational plan and budget

This submission is made at a time when Auckland is recovering from a major weather event, which has left many residents of Auckland homeless due to severe slips and flooding, while at the same time Auckland Council is needing to overcome a budget shortfall of $295 million in the 2023/2024 financial year. The shortfall does not include the money needed to resolve the aftermath of the flooding and cyclone, or the financial investment required to improve our damaged infrastructure after the cyclone and floods.

Please note: Our local board area of Mangere/Ōtāhuhu has the lowest tree canopy in Auckland, down to 8% according to the LIDAR report in 2018. I have emailed Auckland Council to find out when the next LIDAR report will be conducted. My estimation is that our tree canopy is now down to 4%, after the clear felling of over 100 trees in 2019 by Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) on Mangere Mountain, high density intensification housing development under the Auckland unitary plan, and commercial/industrial development on James Fletcher drive Ōtahuhu, Favona Rd Mangere, and other parts of our local board area. This comment is specific to the Mangere-Ōtāhuhu local board area.

This is called a ‘green divide’, whereby only affluent areas in an urban setting are fortunate to have tree canopy as high as 40%, while low socioeconomic areas like the local board area of Mangere/Ōtāhuhu have 4%. This is social injustice and inequity at the highest level, and the reason we as a community will not allow the clear felling of perfectly healthy trees on Mount Richmond which is our local park and recreation/green space. We love the trees and birds that flourish on Mount Richmond, and will do our utmost to protect them.

Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau

Tūpuna Maunga Authority’s 2023/24 Draft Operational Plan and Budget, Public consultation submission from Shirley Waru and Reinard Poelman, written on behalf of the Respect Mount Richmond Ōtahuhu community.

Capital expenditure programme for Mount Richmond in the 2023/2024 budget

Track network: Develop track network to improve access and protect values. p,58.

1. We oppose the allocation of $450,000 in the 2023/24 budget. The proposed track upgrade suggested for a staircase to the crater from the rugby league fields on the eastern side of Mount Richmond is unnecessary, because the ring road already gives access to the crater, with a much shorter path requiring track network development. I assume the idea of access to the crater from the car park area is to cater for tourism, and easy access for tourist buses, rather than improving access for our local community who use this recreation/green space on a daily basis. We oppose the track development on Mount Richmond at this point in time, as the money could be spent on more important things in our community. For example, during the recent floods and cyclone many homes in Water St Ōtāhuhu that back onto the stream flooded. The backyards of many homes were flooded not by only water, but human excrement and toilet paper. The reason this occurred was because the stream was blocked with rubbish and other debris. According to residents the stream has not been cleared for a number of years. This type of issue is a priority, whereas a staircase to the crater is not.

Operational expenditure programme. We note on page 59, TMA states ‘a programme has been established for community groups supporting weeding on the maunga’. We would support this type of initiative, however this is news to all who use our park and reserve on a daily basis. There has certainly been no signage at Mount Richmond encouraging our community to participate.

Pest management. Undertake animal and plant pest control. p,59.

2. We oppose the allocation of $21,347 in the 2023/24 budget. The TMA will be working with the Department of Conservation on the ‘Jobs for Nature scheme’ over the next three years, having received a $3 million funding boost to do so. The funding is pest control specific.

Network-wide revenue. Leases, p25. We oppose any rent increases by TMA, for lease holders at Mount Richmond, to Northern Sport Car Club and Ōtahuhu Rovers Rugby League Football Club in this financial year. Both clubs are grassroots community groups, which are important to all generations of our community. In particular the league club, which is an important part of our children’s social and physical exercise network.

Network-wide programmes. Capital expenditure programme.

 Interpretation and way finding signs. Network wide programme to develop comprehensive site-specific interpretation and wayfinding signs.

3. We oppose the allocation of $500.000 in the 2023/24 budget. Unfortunately there are more important services to fund in our community.

Story telling and cultural infrastructure. p,26. Network-wide programme to develop unique infrastructure that bring Mana Whenua stories and values to life on the maunga.

4. We oppose the allocation of $420,000 in the 2023/24 budget. There are more important services to fund, which benefit all members of our community, not just Mana Whenua.

Protection and restoration of integrity of the Tūpuna Maunga. Network-wide Vegetation Restoration programme to remove vegetation and reinstate and/or revegetate in accordance with the IMP. p,26.

5. We oppose the allocation of $1,160,000 in the 2023/24 budget. Firstly, in our view the approved resource consent for Mount Richmond Ōtāhuhu, and other maunga should be set aside in line with the Court of Appeal’s decision in Norman v Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority & Auckland Council (2022) NZCA 30 means it would be wrong and inappropriate to rely on those consents. Instead, the Council and TMA should, if they intend to fell trees, make a new application, which is ‘publicly notified’. That way they can ensure a robust, open process in which the local community is given a full opportunity to express their views in the resource consent process, and that all relevant information on the effects of the proposal are put before the Council, not just Tūpuna Maunga Authority as is the current process.

Redundant assets removal. Network-wide programme to remove redundant assets on the Maunga. p,26.

6. We oppose the allocation of $250,000 in the 2023/24 budget. Again, there are more urgent issues to finance, such as infrastructure, waste and storm water issues.

Pest proof fencing. Establish fencing to create pest proof areas on the Maunga. p,26.

7. We oppose the allocation of $50,000 in the 2023/24 budget.

Track network. Review of Network-wide track network to ensure tracks meet required specifications. p,26.

8. We oppose the allocation of $50,000 in the 2023/24 budget. There is definitely no money for reviews.

Pathways. Network-wide programme to create welcoming paths. p, 26.

9. We oppose the allocation of $100,000 in the 2023/24 budget. Again, more important things to remedy in Auckland.

Visitor information. Network-wide programme to understand visitation and it’s impact on the Maunga. p,26.

10. We oppose the allocation of $80,000 in the 2023/24 budget. There is definitely no money for feasibility studies. It would be appropriate for this to also include the impact to our respective communities, if 2,500 trees are clear felled, and also the impact on the existing bird life and other biodiversity.

Visitor information and research. Development and enhancement of visitor information to enhance the visitor experience and monitoring and research to better understand visitor expectations, experiences and impacts. p,28.

11. We oppose the allocation of $55,922 in the 2023/24 budget.

Events and Activations. Providing Love Your Maunga events. p,28.

12. We oppose the allocation for the love your maunga events, but support opportunities such as sporting events which would benefit our respective communities. We oppose the allocation of $42,499 in the 2023/24 budget.

Management planning. Completing the individual Tūpuna Maunga plans and concessions framework, progressing the UNESCO World Heritage bid, contiguous land analysis and other planning projects identified in these documents. p,28.

13. We oppose the allocation of $127,000 in the 2023/24 budget. It is apparent to everyone but TMA, that there is not the required community support at this point in time for a successful UNESCO World Heritage Bid. A pre requisite for success is to have community support, which clearly is not the case.

Summary of our suggested cuts for allocation of money to Tūpuna Maunga Authority in the 2023/24 budget.

1. Track network.                              $   450,000
2. Pest management.                        $     21,347
3. Interpretation and way finding signs.                           $    500,000
4. Storytelling and cultural infrastructure.                $    420,000
5. Protection & restoration. Remove vegetation, and reinstate…                                         $1,160,000
6. Redundant assets removal.      $    250,000
7. Pest proof fencing.                       $      50,000
8. Track network review.                $      50,000
9. Pathways, welcoming paths.    $    100,000
10. Visitor information.                  $      80,000
11. Visitor information & research.                                      $      55,922
12. Events and activations.           $      42,499  
13. Management planning, concessions framework & UNESCO World Heritage bid.                                                   $    127,000  
Total savings.                                    $ 2,147,928  

In conclusion, we have not commented or suggested any savings for specific Maunga other than Mount Richmond. However, we have included our suggested cuts based on the network-wide capital expenditure programme, where spending occurs within the 2023/24 budget.

TMA must find a way to work with our communities in a cohesive way. The deal breaker for Respect Mount Richmond Ōtāhuhu is the clear felling of 2,500 trees, 443 of those trees stand on Mount Richmond. From a Māori perspective, this is not Tikanga Māori, as our cultural world view respects all living things in the environment, we do not differentiate between native and exotic.

The recent floods and cyclone have been a good reminder to all of us, that green space serves an important function when extreme weather events occur. Trees also play an important part to mitigate and stop erosion, apart from being very important to the well being of our community.

Note: We have requested to make a verbal submission and will post the transcript here in due course.

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