By Demelza Jackson
After a month-long protest by Titirangi residents, Watercare has agreed to meet concessions regarding the placement of their new water treatment plant in Waima.
The new treatment facility, which will be placed on Manuka Rd, will cost Watercare an estimated $317 million.
The water treatment plant was originally announced to be placed Oratia, but large-scale protesting from locals caused Watercare to back down and pick a new location.
However, Since the announcement of the treatment plants location, Titirangi locals have voiced concerns about the environmental consequence of the facility on the native bush, the felling of Kauri trees has been a point of major contention. Residents of the area also fear potential disruption to the area during the construction process and loss of the Clark Bush track. Greg Presland, chairman of the Waitakere ranges local board and Titirangi resident explains that:
“People don’t want to see a large industrial scale complex in their backyard, so the question of size is important and placement is important. And the amount of bush that is going to be cleared is very important”.
“I’ve always been very protective of the bush”.
A protest placard in Titirangi Village.
Protest sign placed on the Titirangi Village roundabout.
The locals have displayed their dismay in the form of a 300 person sit-in and march, which took place in early June. Placards have appeared throughout Titirangi imploring Watercare to leave Waima alone and petitions and videos have circulated online as protestors take to social media to rally sympathisers to their cause.
300 protestors march to protect Waima Bush. Picture courtesy of Jacinda Boyd.
This is not Titirangi local’s first incident of environmental activism. In 2015 locals rallied against the felling of a 100-year old Kauri on a Paturoa Rd property, which was to be cut down to make room for building development. The tree was occupied by Protestor Jonno Smith until the property owner agreed not to cut it down.
Mr Presland comments that in Titirangi there is “always someone willing to climb in” to save a Kauri tree.
In response to the protestors, a board meeting, attended by Titirangi residents and Watercare representatives was held in June and three riders were added to the draft resolution to consolidate displeased locals.
“Watercare is to seek to minimise environmental damage, it is to lodge the application for a resource consent through Council so that the opportunity for local people to have a say is maximised and there is to be enhanced consultation with the local community.”
Mr Presland acted as the go-between for protestors and Watercare representatives.
“Watercare is a big, self-controlled organisation with a $5bn balance sheet and huge access to resources and professional advice. Local people and communities can access good quality advice but it’s much more difficult for them to do that. There was a very clear power imbalance.”
“The protesting has been (effective). Watercare has taken a step back and set up this consultation comity with local people and that comity has a lot of moral strength behind it.”
“It does appear that Watercare is prepared to adjust and change its position on various points.”
Mr Presland has stated that he will wait until he has seen the final design from Watercare to decide whether he is satisfied with the concessions made during the board meeting.
For more information:
- Greg Presland’s report on the board meeting.
- More information on the protests.
- A petition to stop Watercare from building the treatment plant.
- Online response to Watercare felling Kauri trees.
- Full audio from the interview with Greg Presland.
- Personal Twitter.