SKP Files Appeal with Supreme Court

Waiheke Community Group, SKP Inc Heads To Supreme Court To Stop Marina
[For immediate release]
[Waiheke Island, December 23, 2020, 11.59 pm]

Waiheke Community Group, SKP Inc (SKP) is heading to the Supreme Court in a final bid to stop a marina from being constructed at Kennedy Point, Pūtiki Bay, Waiheke Island.

SKP’s decision to appeal the marina resource consent to the Supreme Court follows a recent Māori Appellate Court judgment that found that Auckland Council acted unlawfully in failing to recognise the Ngāti Paoa Trust Board as the mandated representative for Ngāti Paoa in relation to Resource Management Act (RMA) matters. The Trust Board as the mana whenua representative of Waiheke Island is strongly opposed to the marina.

As a result of Auckland Council’s unlawful action, the Trust Board was not directly notified of the marina resource consent application. Neither the Developer, Kennedy Point Boatharbour Limited (KPBL) or Auckland Council consulted with the Trust Board in regards to the marina resource consent application.

“In light of the recent Māori Appellate Court finding, SKP has a responsibility to do what it can to continue to stand up for the environment of Waiheke and the Hauraki Gulf, and for mana whenua. Having filed its leave to appeal application with the Supreme Court today, SKP hopes to provide a platform and opportunity for the Ngāti Paoa Trust Board to have the fundamental wrong that was committed against it by Auckland Council, righted.” says SKP Chairperson David Baigent.

“Had Auckland Council not acted unlawfully in failing to recognise the Trust Board, there is a real possibility that this marina would never have been granted resource consent. Given the unlawful conduct identified by the Māori Appellate Court SKP is calling on Council to apologise to Ngāti Paoa and the Waiheke community, and to overturn the marina consent. But until Council does so, SKP has no choice but to bring an application for leave to appeal before the Supreme Court in the hope that the true position of mana whenua will finally be heard by the Court, and a rehearing ordered for the marina resource consent.”

In its recent decision, the Māori Appellate Court held that despite Auckland Council being aware of a 2009 section 30(1)(b) Māori Land Court Order, granting the Trust Board representative status for Ngāti Paoa in regards to RMA and LGA matters, Auckland Council failed to comply with the 2009 Order and instead recognised another entity as having representative status for Ngāti Paoa. The Māori Appellate Court went on to find that s30(1)(b) Orders are binding on Councils and that it was wrong for Auckland Council to recognise another entity and not the Trust Board.

The Judgment states that “As a matter of law, Auckland Council was wrong to engage the Iwi Trust as if it were the representative of the iwi in the knowledge that there was an extant s30 order”

On Sunday, 20 December 2020, SKP had a Special General Meeting (SGM) where its members unanimously voted to file an application for leave to appeal with the Supreme Court.

“SKP was overwhelmed at the support it received at the SGM for continuing this important battle, especially after so many setbacks with the various courts. However, the Māori Appellate Court judgment has given renewed hope that the various failings by Auckland Council and the Developer that led to the marina consent being granted is finally being understood, and most importantly is not allowed to continue” according to Mr Baigent.

David Baigent says “SKP has always been disappointed at Auckland Council’s conduct throughout this case, including Auckland Council’s continued efforts to seek costs orders against SKP. The fact that Auckland Council is seeking costs against a community group in circumstances where Auckland Council’s past actions have been shown to be wrong is unbelievably disappointing. We are also aware that the Developer, KPBL has stated in email correspondence to potential marina berth holders that it ‘will do everything it can to get costs orders against SKP and wind [SKP] up once and for all’. Despite these threats, SKP feels honored to be able to stand up for the environment and to stand up for mana whenua and their cultural values.

“Our community will not be silenced by threats,” says David Baigent.

On 2 December 2020, the NZ Labour Government declared a climate change emergency, following an early climate change declaration by Auckland Council in June 2019. As well as concerns about the adverse effects of the marina on Māori cultural values, SKP has also argued that the marina poses a significant risk to the Waiheke and Hauraki Gulf environment, which is particularly vulnerable as identified in successive State of The Gulf reports.

“Now is not the time to be putting the Hauraki Gulf under further environmental risk and threat. Now is the time for Auckland Council to be proactive in its protection of our precious moana and environment. It is not enough to just declare a climate change emergency, it is time for decisive action to assist the Hauraki Gulf in healing, restoring itself, and better protection for our environment to ensure it is there for future generations to enjoy.” says David Baigent.

Along with the Māori Appellate Court judgment, the Declaration of Climate Change Emergency, SKP is also hopeful that the recent election of Green Party MP for Central Auckland, Chlöe Swarbrick will be part of the change in making 2021 a year where groups like SKP are successful in their dedicated efforts to protect the environment and support mana whenua.

“The tide is finally turning in favour of the moana, mana whenua and the environment. SKP has hope that following on from the hard lessons of 2020, we will all start to take better care of ourselves, each other and our precious environment - 2020 is a clear example of what can go wrong if we don’t,” says David Baigent.