Shelly Bay; the omnishambles continues, Councillors vote blind, old claims resurface, and parallels drawn with Ihumatao

The truth has a way of leaking out no matter how much Communications Wizards try to stop it, or at least bend it to an angle as it passes through an organisation. More revelations this week around Shelly Bay show problems mounting on problems, like some kind of wicked “Yertle the Turtle” fable.

A caveat has been placed on sale of the Council land by Sarah Crawford who argues that her relatives should have been offered the chance to purchase the land ahead of developers. This means that Council can’t sell it’s land until the matter is decided.

Generations ago the Crawford family was made to sell much of the land at Shelly Bay and surrounds to the Crown. Now, descendant Sarah Crawford has placed a caveat on Wellington City Council selling its land in the southern bay there.

She argues that, as a descendant, the Public Works Act means she and her relatives should have been offered the chance to buy land at the site back ahead of developers, and the caveat means the council cannot sell its land at Shelly Bay until that matter is decided.

133-year-old transaction gets legal standing in Shelly Bay saga

A caveat is an interesting thing, it is a complex matter, however, the “Conveyancing Law Handbook” tells us that;

The word “caveat” means “let a person beware”. A caveat is a notice given by a party that no action is to be taken until that party has been heard. Caveats do not create new rights; they are used to protect existing rights. The person lodging the caveat must have reasonable cause to do so. If not, he or she may be liable to compensate anyone who suffers loss as a result of the caveat.

All engines stop Mr Sulu. Even if the Councillors chose to sell the land in a future vote, unlikely as we have seen, that caveat would still need to be resolved.

Now, this action was known about for nearly two years as the Dominion Post has previously reported on it.

The $500 million development of Wellington’s Shelly Bay could be derailed by a 131-year-old land transaction.

Large areas of the land Wellington City Council wants to sell or lease to developers were owned by James Coutts Crawford until the Crown acquired it in 1886.

Now his great-great-granddaughter, Sarah Crawford, has set out to reclaim the family land, stop development and any possible foreign ownership, and use it for recreation for all.

“It’s the jewel in the crown of Wellington. It’s like Bastion Point in Auckland,” she said.

“My dream is my children, and my family’s children, and friends’ children and all New Zealand’s children and great-grandchildren are able to enjoy a natural green area and have the pleasure of being able to use it till infinity.”

Shelly Bay project could be on the rocks after landowner’s family steps forward

Putting that now much larger than life wrinkle aside, Councillors this week complained that they had been voting blind on Shelly Bay.

A trio of Wellington councillors say they were misled in the lead-up to fast-tracking consent for the controversial Shelly Bay development.

Councillors say they were voting blind on Shelly Bay fast-track

Those three Councillors were not the only ones. More than one Councillor has approached me over the last six months to discuss the issue off the record and more than one has expressed sentiment that if the original vote were to be held again today, knowing what they know now, they’d vote differently.

Mayor Justin Lester said he couldn’t remember the 2015 meeting and it was now irrelevant.

So even the Mayor can’t remember the content of that meeting. Voting blind indeed. As to irrelevant, nope, wrong, it’s highly relevant because it highlights all the parts of the WCC that residents mistrust and have continued complaint about. It is a microcosm of a wider relationship between residents and the city, and that’s why it just won’t die. It has become a conduit of complaint.

People have been activated all over the country this week over the Ihumatao issue and Mau Whenua, who is taking the PNSBT off to court, has drawn some very real parallels between that issue and the one of Shelly Bay.

Mau Whenua spokesperson Sydney Mepham said that as with Ihumatao, the proposed development at Omarukaikuru/Shelly Bay has seen a broad base of opposition from iwi members, local community residents and local businesses, environmentalists and Wellingtonians and former Wellingtonians generally. “The HAASHA Act is a draconian piece of legislation that removes the rights of many people. However, the use of the HAASHA at Ihumatao and Omarukaikuru/Shelly Bay has had the fortunate side effect of mobilizing many New Zealanders to stand up for their land rights, citizenship rights and their environment.”

Parallels Between Ihumatao And Omarukaikuru/Shelly Bay

What we are seeing here is a far greater, far more important, with larger consequences, situation starting to flare like it did for the Island Bay Cycleway. All the same hallmarks are now waving like red flags in the wind.

It will be activating people, it will be radicalsing people, and it will produce some very outspoken future leaders of the city. Once activated, people act, it gets under their skin, they start writing, they starting organising themselves, they start gearing up for a fight.

Could we see occupation at Shelly Bay? Absolutely. I’d bet money on it. There are already murmurings across social media, that are slowly growing, that are calling for an occupation and wider protest.

This is what happens when you railroad the communities views and shutdown engagement, regardless of which community, or which “authority” that is doing it.