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24.07.11 20:13 Age: 6 yrs

FoM Submission on the Auckland Plan

 

Following is the Friends of Maungawhau submission to the Auckland City Council on the Auckland Plan

Submission to the Auckland Council From Friends of Maungawhau Inc. on the Auckland Plan

The Secretary
Friends of Maungawhau
Suite 133, 453a
Mt Eden Rd
Auckland 1024
New Zealand                       

Phone 64 9 6301490
Mobile 0276671059
www.maungawhau.co.nz 
info(at)maungawhau.co[dot]nz               

20 May 2011


A    Introduction


FoM have 52 members of which 10 are active volunteers undertaking approx. 60 hours per month on heritage restoration of the Park. Over the years, we have advocated greater professional care for Maungawhau - an icon of Auckland and of international heritage significance.

Maungawhau is the highest and one of the largest volcanic cones of Auckland and gives Auckland City much of its distinctive character.  It receives 1.2 million visitors a year of which 50% are estimated to be overseas visitors. Maori and archaeologists say Maungawhau was a centre of a city of thousands that existed before Europeans settled here. Layers of ecology and European history also contribute to its significance.

We see the need today for improvement in the governance of public parks in greater Auckland. The submission is mainly focused on heritage or resource based parks and particularly Maungawhau.

B    Main Submissions:

  1. Our public park system in Auckland needs leadership;  co-ordination; less bureaucracy and contracting systems. There is a need for active citizens to be more involved in the decision making and operation of our parks - our "commons".

  2. Greater attention needs to be placed on the Regional Pest Management Strategy within the urban areas of Auckland.  Auckland has an reputation of being the weediest city and the red of the pohutukawa is in danger of replaced by the yellow of the introduced Privet.

  3. A regional wide park ranger or kaitiaki service needs to be established to  manage Maungawhau, the volcanic cones, regional parks and other    significant parks in association with active citizens and volunteers groups.

  4. Volunteers especially long term volunteers caring for the parks need greater support and training.

  5. The philosophical base to parks is the right of every citizen to a quiet green space for rest and recreation within easy access to their living space. The emphasis on active recreation and developing parks needs to be tempered     and greater community discussion needed on park categories and standards.

  6. We support the submission from volunteering Auckland... "An effective volunteer culture be supported and encouraged by developing a Volunteer Charter within all Council structures and CCOs.  This is to be used as a guide for the private and public sector to ensure paid work is protected, volunteers are not exploited and volunteer task areas are meaningful and contribute to Auckland as "the world's most liveable city.""

C    Discussion

Ecological sustainability.

Cities do not exist out side nature and greater account of a relationship with the natural world needs to take place There is evidence that  humans can suffer  from "nature deficit disorder" which is coming from the exploitation of the planet and is resulting also in the declining overall health of our species.

The recommendations from the 2003 World Park Congress [International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN] are essential to consider in the governance of Auckland's parks and protected areas. See Appendices.

Decline in Parks

The growth of Auckland has lead to a decline of public parkland due to intensification. A 20% decline per ha in parkland per population is estimated on the Auckland isthmus due to urban intensification. [From PARK 2000, Auckland Parks 10 Concerns, Dec 1998, Paper presented to Councillors.] There has been an over reliance that existing space can satisfy the growth in population and cater for the multitude of active, passive and heritage uses.  The carrying capacity has already been exceeded resulting in harm to cones such as Maungawhau. This is leading to growing conflicts of use and difficulties in protecting heritage as we see on Maungawhau today.

The physical environment of the Waitakere Ranges, the Auckland Volcanic Field and the Hauraki Gulf and Manukau Harbour are the four icons that give Auckland its unique identity. The Waitakere Ranges and Hauraki Gulf now have their unique legislation and decision making progress with an active involved community.   The volcanic field and landscape urgently needs an acquisition plan to ensure stabilisation of existing cones as well as acquisition of significant volcanic landscapes to benefit nature and the community.  The volcanic cones need staff with the expertise and skills to work with the community to manage these heritage sites.

Maungawhau is a heritage site of international significance yet we see uncontrolled tourism and other use, cases of private encroachment, erosion, scheduled weeds covering the site and a confused management and governance structure that is not dealing with implementing the management plan.

The crowded tourist use on Maungawhau is greater than Milford Sound and exclusive use is adversely affecting the archaeological site. Maungawhau gets more overseas tourism than Milford Sound [1.2 million visitors a year with 51% being international tourists] yet there are poor systems to protect the resource let alone protect local community interests.  We are concerned over safety of visitors to the site.

Over laid with this is a double Reserve Act classification to protect local recreation use, which often conflicts with the heritage of the site. The most promising future arrangement is to give Iwi total management responsibility with the Crown and a new Greater Regional Council providing support. It is a shared responsibility for this Crown reserve of international significance.

The contracting out system and siloed management structure that is developing in the new Council appears costly and poor use of public funds. A professional ranger service working with good training and supporting committed volunteers is needed.


World Heritage Status and a Trained Ranger Service

The potential for World Heritage Status of the volcanic landscape of greater Auckland will have a significant impact to increase the future well being of the region. However, the significant cones need a better greater professional management structure.  A key element to deal with this is to develop a sustainable carrying capacity as well as have a high profile Park Ranger or Kaitiaki Service.

Citizen involvement and Volunteering

The involvement of citizens in their parks or common land is an ancient one continued to this day. [See Appendices].  The rise in volunteers and park care group such as the Friends of Maungawhau is a democratic desire to be engaged and involved in our public parks. However, the present contracting culture being developed in the new Council   makes it difficult to have our input and get direction.  Consultation as well as engagement foster local community participation and this may be lost through adoption of large-scale bureaucracies unless provisions are made to better engage volunteer groups.

Many volunteer projects operate in parks and volunteers carry out a variety of activity from pest control to vegetation restoration and assisting staff. A volunteer co-ordinator for Auckland has told the Friends of Maungawhau that the expertise built up in areas of site restoration is greater that many staff and contractors. The FoM have developed sustainable vegetation under story techniques but have had difficulty in getting this formally integrated and documented into the present systems.  The FoM have also made requests to be honorary rangers as provided in the Reserves Act but this has been refused because it is perceived as too difficult or a threat to management.

Volunteering is becoming more complex and is changing within society.
The following trends are occurring which will affect the governance and management of parks.

  1. The environment and climate change movement has created a greater willingness for people to be involved.

  2. Immigration and settlement of new New Zealanders has resulted in volunteering as a way to mix and get to know others  - In other words parks are a "Mixing Bowl" a place to share and get to know each other.

  3. There is a growth in event, corporate, tourism and social volunteering [providing opportunities for disabled etc]

  4. Need to encourage more long term volunteering and training.


The essential factor to success with volunteers is to have a professional ranger service and staff leadership to work with volunteers.

D    Conclusion
 
Under the new Auckland Council there is a multitude of officers, planners, consultants and contractors who operate on Maungawhau. This lack of leadership is disappointing and our voice is often ignored. Now is the time to look at improved heritage stewardship and develop new leadership. As a start, Volcanic Cones need greater recognition and under  within one professional park and heritage agency and with a trained higher profile park ranger service working with volunteers.


We wish to be heard in support of our submission

Thank you

The Secretary
Friends of Maungawhau Executive
Suite 133, 453a
Mt Eden Rd
Auckland 1024
New Zealand                       

Phone 64 9 6301490  Mobile 0276671059
www.maungawhau.co.nz  info@maungawhau.co.nz

Appendix

Cities and Protected Areas
World Park Congress 2003

Recommendation 14

Half the world's population now lives in cities, and this proportion is expected to grow to 60 percent by 2030.

Protected areas both near and far provide many significant benefits to cities, ranging from education and healthy recreation, to watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, and income from tourism.

Protected area systems also depend on support from voters, leaders, opinion-shapers, and financial resources, which are largely concentrated in cities.  At the same time, city dwellers tend to be less and less connected to nature and consequently the quality of their lives is diminished and they may unwittingly behave irresponsibly toward the environment.

Nevertheless, urban residents can gain greater appreciation and love for nature through experiences in natural areas and open spaces as well as through education. Ecological restoration and environmental protection are essential to the quality of life of urban dwellers. Interaction with nature by city dwellers brings direct social, economic, and cultural benefits.

Agencies responsible for protected areas can serve urban residents through conventional activities such as preserving, restoring, and interpreting natural areas in and near cities, but also through less conventional roles such as reaching out to disadvantaged people, working to bridge social divisions through shared experiences in nature, and helping to "green" and promote sustainable development in cities.    

IUCN has recognised the critical roles that cities, urban people, and urban institutions play in achieving IUCN's overall mission, for example, in Caring for the Earth (1991) and at the Union's 50th Anniversary Celebration (Fontainebleau, 1998).  Urban populations are also essential to achieving such fundamental goals of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) as "Strengthening the constituency for protected areas" (Recommendation 1 of the IVth World Parks Congress; Caracas, 1992).  Connecting protected areas to social and economic concerns is a priority of WCPA's 2001-2004 action plan.

At the same time, more should be done to facilitate exchange of experience in urban conservation and outreach among the increasing number of IUCN members with such activities, and many innovative local socio-environmental programmes, including programmes involving children and young people in making the case for conservation.

Finally, allied intergovernmental programmes such as the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme and national programmes that connect natural and cultural heritage sites are placing greater emphasis on urban dimensions of protecting biodiversity.

Therefore, PARTICIPANTS in the Stream on Building Broader Support for Protected Areas at the Vth World Parks Congress, in Durban, South Africa (8-17 September 2003):

RECOMMEND that conservation agencies, NGOs, local authorities and local communities:

RECOGNISE the importance of protected areas and green spaces to the people living in cities and encourage and resource the development of strategies and programs that engage groups in activities that improve their quality of life;

RECOGNISE the interdependence of cities and protected areas, as demonstrated for example through regional and ecosystem approaches linking urban and rural conservation areas and efforts, and the important contributions of protected areas to socio-economic priorities; and

STRENGTHEN the capacity of the protected area community to preserve and restore natural areas in and near cities, reach out to urban residents, and build stronger urban constituencies for nature conservation;

RECOMMEND that the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas incorporate an urban dimension in its activities through a Theme on Cities and Protected Areas; and

RECOMMEND that IUCN:

ORGANISE activities at the 3rd World Conservation Congress (Bangkok, 2004) spotlighting innovative programmes linking cities and protected areas;

INCORPORATE the urban dimensions of conservation into the 2005-08 intersessional programme to be considered at the 3rd World Conservation Congress (Bangkok, 2004);

LINK biodiversity conservation to human settlements in order to better advance the implementation of sustainable development objectives, including the United Nations Millennium Development Goals;

RECRUIT as members organizations engaged in urban environmental issues, invites prominent leaders and experts in urban management to participate in the work of IUCN;

DEVELOP partnerships with key organisations engaged in the urban environment; and

DEVELOP tools, such as modelling techniques, which assist urban managers to incorporate ecosystem management approaches in their planning and management.


THE STOCKHOLM DECLARATION
International Council on Monuments and sites. [ICOMOS]

Meeting in Stockholm, ICOMOS wishes to underline the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1998, in particular its recognition of the right of everyone to partake freely in the cultural life of the community.

In addition to the importance of specific conventions or legislation relating to cultural heritage and its preservation, ICOMOS affirms that the right to cultural heritage is an integral part of human rights considering the irreplaceable nature of the tangible and intangible legacy it constitutes, and that it is threatened to in a world which is in constant transformation. This right carries duties and responsibilities for individuals and communities as well as for institutions and states. To protect this right today is to preserve the rights of future generations.

  • The right to have the authentic testimony of cultural heritage, respected as an expression of one's cultural identity within the human family;
  • The right to better understand one's heritage and that of others;
  • The right to wise and appropriate use of heritage;
  • The right to participate in decisions affecting heritage and the cultural values it embodies;
  • The right to form associations for the protection and promotion of cultural heritage.

These are rights ICOMOS believes must be respected in order to preserve and enrich World's cultural diversity.

These rights assume the need to recognize, appreciate and maintain heritage, and to improve and respect a framework for action. They assume appropriate development strategies and an equitable partnership between society, the private sector and individuals to harmonize interests affecting cultural heritage, and to reconcile preservation with development. In the spirit that animates such statements, they call for international co-operation in the conventions, legislation and other statutory measures.

These are responsibilities that all -- individually and collectively -- must share just as all share the wealth of the memory, in the search for a sustainable development at the service of Mankind.

Stockholm, September 11th, 1998


Citizen involvement has ancient origins

In 2006 after I attended the International Rangers Congress in Scotland, I was invited by rangers to attend the Verders Court in the New Forest. This is possibly the oldest form of governing parks in the world dating from William the Conquer.  The Court and the principle of commoner rights have protected the Forest over the centuries. The Court has had its powers reduced over the years and now the Forestry Commission holds greater power but it is still constrained and has to formally meet and deal with commoners and their rights. These rights hold in check the bureaucracy, ensure a balance of decision-making and how decisions are actioned. The commoners are like long term volunteers and can be accused of being a minority interest group of people having greater say over other stakeholders. On the other hand, commoners are independent advocates, hold concern for the land, and undertake voluntary action to uphold their rights.
 
In a similar way, individuals in NZ used their freedom to contribute and protect the commons.  Parks in NZ developed from a volunteer base as seen with the old National Park and Domain Boards. However, this has been gradually taken over by bureaucracies and professional staff who now manage parks on the citizen's behalf.  This combined with a managerial approach has reduced the citizen to a minor "stakeholder" and with this the volunteer has been placed on the margin of their commons.

The active volunteer citizen can be a valuable community link between the elected official, paid professional staff in the care of the commons. The role of citizen groups needs greater recognition under the ethic  - it's not what the city can do for you it is what you can do for the city.

Kit Howden from report to ARC Staff and Chairman, Volunteers, Charities and Governance of Parks, Feb 2008


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