Chair’s report February 2021 – Kauri sniffer dogs and community heroes
Happy new year to you all. May 2021 be even better than 2020 …
Consultation on Council’s 10 year budget
I am sure that all of us breathed a sigh of relief when the recent escalation of Auckland into Covid level 3 was relaxed down to level 2 and with a bit of luck by the time this is printed we will be back to normal.
The experience also shows us what a tricky virus Covid is. The most likely explanation is that a worker whose job it is to wash laundry from International flights may have picked up the virus at work. The government previously thought that the prospects of infection in this way was remote. It looks like we will have to upgrade our safety tolerance for the virus.
Thankfully the spread appears to have been isolated. And the track and trace system, combined with mass testing in the affected area provide some reassurance that we still have the virus under control.
Overseas, especially in the United States a combination of greater respect for the virus and the roll out of vaccines have seen new infection rates decrease dramatically. There is light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic.
This is a rather long winded introduction into the consultation about the Council’s 10 year plan which is currently taking place.
Last year was the year of disruption caused by Covid. This year will hopefully be the start of the repair job as well as the year of getting ready for climate change. For the City to meet its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 we will need to start getting ready now.
One of the major effects for the local board caused by the Covid disruption was the loss of our Transport Capital Fund. We had planned to use this money to advance our Greenways Plan as well as complete Glen Eden’s town square and a major point of my advocacy will be to persuade Council to return this fund.
Of the consultation document itself there will be some topics that attract attention. Lifting Council’s debt to income ratio to 290% for three years is I believe a necessary measure. Interest rates have never been lower and the city needs a lot of infrastructure to be built given recent and anticipated growth rates.
As an example our transport network is under considerable stress and climate as well as cost considerations demand that we solve the problem through regular efficient public transport. Particularly for the west the North Western Motorway is heading towards becoming a car park. We really must do better.
The local board has aspirations for our greenways plan. We believe this can be a significant contributor to the Climate Change response but we will need budget to build it.
Particularly because of the need for Council to assist with the recovery and to get ready for a carbon neutral future this consultation is arguably more important than any Council has previously held. Please have your say and let Council and the local board know what you think of the proposals and what can be done to make them better.
Just before Christmas the local board held its traditional end of year ceremony. Invitations went to a number of people including representatives from the various residents and ratepayers groups as well as community activists and generally people who make the west a great place to live in.
We took the opportunity to acknowledge three people whose contributions to the west have been significant. I think that this is an important duty for the local board to cheer for and acknowledge members of our community who contribute to make the west special.
One of these was Terry Bates. He has chaired the Lopdell Trust for a number of years and oversaw the construction of the Te Uru Gallery as well as the refurbishment and strengthening of Lopdell House.
His contribution has been prodigious. The projects were complex, with the need to balance the protection of a historic building while at the same time constructing a state of the art new gallery made the projects very taxing.
Terry had the perfect skills for the job and managed to effectively manage the project within budget and at the minimum of disruption. And he did it for free. I cannot begin to count the number of hours that he spent on the project.
The west now has a gallery that it can be proud of and just as Lopdell House has driven cultural initiatives out west for the past 90 years Te Uru will continue to do so for decades to come.
Another westie we acknowledged was Naomi McCleary. She previously worked as the Arts Manager at Waitakere City. After she retired she just kept working. She also was involved in the Lopdell Trust but also was a driving force behind the McCahon House Trust, the Going West Festival and is one of the activists behind attempts to create Shadbolt House in South Titirangi into a writer’s residence.
She was recently recognised by being made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, an award that was richly deserved.
The third westie we acknowledged was Gayle Marshall. She was previously the chair of the New Lynn Community Board. She has been involved in multiple organisations out west, There are not many organisations out west who have not had the benefit of Gayle’s active support.
She also received a recent award, a Queens Service Medal for her contributions to community.
The west is a very special place to live in. And people the caliber of Terry, Naomi and Gayle help to make it so.
Work on reopening various regional park and local park tracks is proceeding, perhaps more slowly than had been hoped for.
The Omanawanui Ridge and Puriri Ridge Tracks have been or will imminently be opened.
For local board tracks the following table sets out the current status of the various projects.
|Park||Stage||Description||Project Type||Current Track Status Within Park||Current Stage Status||Construction Completion Calendar – Reopen|
|Not allocated budget|
|Glen Eden Picnic Ground||1||Fence off around kauri to restrict access from animals and people and protect kauri roots||Fence||All Tracks Open||Project completed||Late 2019|
|Mahoe Walk||1||Track to be closed – Install 2.1m high fencing with signage to close off track access to park.||Fence||Track Closed Indefinitely||Project completed||Early 2020|
|Seibel Scenic Reserve||1||Mitigate to national kauri safe standards with a geocell stabilization product with a bark and/or aggregate mix and box steps within Kauri Hygiene Areas Upgrade unformed section of track to a dry track standard||Track||All Tracks Open||Project completed||Mid 2020|
|Waitoru Reserve||1||Tracks to be closed – provide buffer planting and signage||Fence||Track Closed Indefinitely||Project completed||Mid 2020|
|Wood Bay Reserve||1||Upgrade track to national kauri safe standards with boxed steps and aggregate||Track & Fence||All Tracks Open||Project completed||Early 2020|
|Bill Haresnape Walk||1||Mitigate kauri track to national kauri safe standards with a geocell and BAM, box steps and a staircase to realign the existing track to bypass kauri and keep track surface above surround ground.||Track||Track Closed Temporarily||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Early 2021|
|Bill Haresnape Walk||2||Install 2 “Mark 3” Hygiene Stations||Hygiene Stations||Track Closed Temporarily||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Early 2021|
|Paturoa Way||1||Upgrade track with boardwalk to keep people off surface of track and reduce the need to hygiene stations||Track||Track Closed Temporarily||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Late 2020|
|Seibel Scenic Reserve||2||Supply and Install 2 “Smith” Hygiene Stations||Hygiene Stations||All Tracks Open||Physical Works underway||Late 2020|
|Arama Reserve||1||Mitigate kauri tracks to national kauri safe standards with a geocell stabilization product with a bark and/or aggregate mix and box steps within Kauri Hygiene Areas Upgrade the remainder of the track to a dry track standard.||Track||Track Closed Temporarily||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Early 2022|
|Henderson Valley Scenic||1||Mitigate to national kauri safe standards with a geocell stabilization product with a bark and/or aggregate mix and box steps within Kauri Hygiene Areas Upgrade the remainder of the track to a dry track standard Maintain access to waterhole and loop track during summer period||Track||All Tracks Closed Temporarily over Winter and Open for Summer only||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Late 2021|
|Opou Reserve||1||Mitigate track to national kauri-safe standards with a geocell stabilization product with a bark and/or aggregate mix and box steps within Kauri Hygiene Areas Upgrade the remainder of the track to a dry track standard||Track||Track Closed Temporarily||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Late 2021|
|Titirangi War Memorial||1||Mitigate track to national kauri safe standards including realigning a section of track and a boardwalk structure||Track||Track Closed Temporarily||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Early 2022|
|Arapito Plantation||1||Mitigate kauri track to national kauri safe standards within the Kauri Hygiene Areas with a geocell stabilization product with a bark and/or aggregate mix infill around the kauri and, aggregate resurfacing and replacement of old stringer steps||Track||Track Closed Temporarily||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Early 2023|
|Kaurimu Park||1||Mitigate track to national kauri safe standards within the Kauri Hygiene Areas with a geocell stabilization product with a bark and/or aggregate mix , box steps, replacement of handrail and steps||Track||Track Closed Temporarily||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Early 2022|
|Rahui Kahika Reserve||1||Upgrade tracks near kauri to kauri safe standards with aggregate, edge boards, a geocell stabilization product with a bark and/or aggregate mix , box steps and a handrail to delineate the track Close informal upper track indefinitely||Track & Fence||Several Tracks in western area of bush Closed Indefinitely and remaining tracks from Godley to Pendlebury & Castleford are open||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Mid 2023|
|Warner Park||1||Maintenance required of recent upgrade, close informal track and mitigate hydrology. Upgrade the track leading into Kauri Hygiene Areas with resurfacing and side drains. Keep existing box steps and refill.||Track & Fence||All Tracks Open||Detailed Design/Drawings underway||Mid 2023|
|Okewa Reserve||1||On hold pending further investigation of possible options and workshop with Waitakere Ranges Local Board in FY21.||Track & Fence||Track Closed Temporarily||Investigation underway||None|
|Tinopai Reserve||1||Track is named Eric Leigh Hunt and major upgrade required to consider roadway movement and protection for kauri. Workshop to be undertaken with Waitakere Ranges Local Board in FY21 to discuss mitigation.||Track||Track Closed Temporarily||Investigation underway||None|
I am aware that these projects are important and the Titirangi ones in particular have major pedestrian use. I have had a number of representations from constituents, particularly about the Bill Haresnape track which is well used and provides an important link. It goes through an area of significant Kauri so we have to get it right. I will continue to publish details of the projects as they become available.
Kauri dieback sniffer dogs
One of the first work things that I did this year was to attend the Council organised media introduction to two dogs, five-year-old Jagdterrier Mawhai and four-year-old English Springer spaniel Pip who incredibly have been trained to sniff out Kauri dieback.
Various media were invited to a Council biosecurity centre and the dogs were then put ot the test, having to sniff out and identify kauri dieback samples placed randomly among a group of samples.
With television camera crews present and a number of reporters watching on the pressure was considerable. Both dogs performed outstandingly well however and successfully identified the contaminated sample every time.
They are kitted out with special shoes so that they can walk tracks and have their feet washed easily so that the phytophthora is not spread.
They will now be used to test soil samples from possible infected kauri trees.
Dogs have highly developed olfactory systems in their noses and have between 250 and 300 million receptors, compared to about six million in humans. This makes a dog’s nose more than 40 times more sensitive than a human’s.
The dogs have some further training to do but already are very useful. It currently takes two to three days for a sample to be taken, sent to the lab for analysis and for the results to then be returned. The dogs’ response is instantaneous.
And now is a good time to remind everyone. Wash your shoes before and after entering tracks and if possible keep away from the base of Kauri trees. Dieback has no cure and if we are not careful we will lose that most magnificent icon of the Waitakere forest.
Glen Eden Safety project
Drivers through Glen Eden recently would have noticed that the main road has been invaded by the dreaded orange cones. This marks the start of the Glen Eden safety project, where various intersections will be redesigned and made safer.
The rationale is the poor local safety record. Over the past five years West Coast Road and Oates Road have witnessed nine accidents where serious injuries occurred. As a city we need to do better.
Work is currently under way on the West Coast Road Glendale Road intersection and on the West Coast Road Janet Clews Road intersection. The intent is to raise the intersections with high friction surfacing to help slow traffic. Pedestrian crossings will be added on each arm.
The next part of the project is to change the West Coast Road Glenview intersection. The left-turn slip lane out of Glenview Road will be removed and signalised crossings will be added to all approaches. Roadway artwork is proposed at the intersection. The crossing will be changed so that pedestrians from all sides will cross together and a countdown timer will be added.
New traffic lights will be placed on Glenview Road on the northern side of the level crossing. It will include a crossing facility that will provide connections between the newly built apartments and schools and the train station.
At the West Coast Road Captain Scott Road intersection Captain Scott will be made one way only at the corner and the right hand from West Coast Road turn will be removed. Traffic will still be able to make a left hand turn from West Coast Road into Captain Scott Road. A signalised crossing will be installed.
The intersection of Oates Road with Glendale Road is to be redesigned and the roundabout altered.
There are a number of other aspects to the project.
I am aware that the project has already caused some disruption to some local businesses. There is a liaison group that meets regularly and the local Business Improvement District has been active in representing the concerns that a number of local businesses have about the effect of the temporary loss of parking on their businesses. Can I urge everyone to continue to shop local and in particular to frequent the West Coast Road retail businesses currently surrounded by cones.
The local board has separate plans for a pop up cycleway. We have deferred this project until later in the year to avoid further disruption.
I regret that there is this disruption. The intent is however to create a safer and more pleasant Glen Eden ready for the future.
Haere mai welcome
The local board has provided support to Jade Tang Taylor and her supporters for their Haere Mai project, designed to welcome new residents, particularly the apartment house residents, to the community.
There are a number of parts to the project, a website, a mentoring system, a goodies bag containing information about the area, local businesses and groups, and things to do.
We had the launch at the Glen Eden RSA and a few of us were invited to speak.
In my speech I said that Glen Eden is a wonderful place full of good people and real characters.
It has all the bases covered. Within 300 metres of the RSA you have the local library, the Catholic Church, a Gym, a medical clinic, Glen Ora league, as many different eateries as you could ever hope for and when you need a drink the RSA. It even has its own cemetery for that final day.
It has pretty good public transport and when the city rail link is complete and you can get to the centre of town within 30 minutes outstanding public transport.
And it is in the hinterland of the Waitakere Ranges and the West Coast, a very special magnificent place.
The people here are good old westies. There are no pretensions, and there is also an abundance of generosity and kindness.
I acknowledged a few people.
Firstly Ted Manson who is the driving force behind the apartments.
Ted spent his early years in an Auckland state house. But through business he then became very wealthy.
A recent Herald article contained this comment that he made:
“I woke up one day and I got a social conscience. That happens at some stage of your life for some, but not for all,” says Manson. “Up until then, I was a capitalist.
“The foundation’s goal is to build and provide more than 300 apartments for social housing by 2022 to help those who are struggling, so they’re able to take the next step in life for a better future.
“Many people are enduring tough times and are under constant pressure and constraint because of hardship or misfortune. But robust, safe, warm, healthy homes which ensure security of tenure would give them the stability to contribute positively to their community and improve their quality of life.”
I applauded Ted for his foresight and his generosity. And he is right. The best way to make sure that a child is fed properly, is educated properly and is nurtured properly is to make sure that they have good quality affordable homes to live in.
I also acknowledged Carmel Sepuloni who in my opinion is the real deal. She is someone with a great deal of talent and ability but someone who also came from a poor background and is dedicated to helping those who now find themselves in a similar situation.
Jade Tang Taylor and her friends also deserved acclaim.
When the local board became aware the apartments were being constructed we were very concerned that we had to make sure the integration of new residents into the community worked and worked well.
And we thought about some sort of project to make this happen.
Jade and her supporters appeared like magic and provided us with the perfect model of what to do. I anticipate that as Glen Eden and the west continues to fill their example is one that we will want to repeat.