Will Shelly Bay be saved?

On Wednesday 30th of June, a community meeting was organised at the ASB Sports Centre called “Shelly Bay will be saved”. The name of the hui was intriguing as, for me, the battle was lost on the 11th of November when the City Council voted to sell/lease a stretch of public land required for the development. We all know how it went.

So I was curious to attend the meeting to find out if there was any new information to discover.

The room was packed before the meeting started.

On the front row, I saw Councillor Rush and then later, Deputy Mayor Free, who both voted against the sale of the public land. Regional Councillor David Lee was also present. I was pleasantly surprised to also find Green MP Dr Elizabeth Kerekere: it is important as it shows that in iwi matters, the Green party stands against the injustice done to Maori over housing densification, a topic dear to their heart.

Nicky Hager was there too, perhaps to build on the excellent, thorough piece he wrote in July 2020, “The long, sorry saga of Shelly Bay“. Finally, I spotted Mayor Andy Foster, who has consistently, over the years, condemned the development proposed by Ian Cassels.

Amongst the community groups, Enterprise Miramar was present, possibly also as an organiser. Guardians of the Bays too had quite a few representatives (including me). But most surprising was how many young people were in the audience. I take part in many community meetings, and it was refreshing and inspiring to see the younger generation care for a site and its ecological value.

Several speakers followed one another. The connection to the land was first evoked. In 2016, to make the message clear to PNBST and WCC, a pou was erected at Shelly Bay. It signifies the iwis had no intention to sell the land, despite the agreement reached the previous year by Wellington City Council during their trip to China.

Mau Whenua made clear what they want is the return of the land to iwi ownership, and are at the Maori court. They claimed that, unlike what PNBST was saying at the time, the iwi trust was not operating at a loss (and therefore, was not “forced” to sell the land to the Wellington Company).

Then Councillor Lee, from the Regional Council, came on stage to explain the resource consenting processes when it came to such big developments. He outlined how council officers would assess the applications in the light of increasingly stringent environmental constraints, especially on water. What I understood, and what David Lee couldn’t say explicitly, is that a declined resource consent might have the potential to collapse the entire house of cards upon which the SHA status is built on. Since the meeting, Enterprise Miramar has released the following statement on this topic:

At the Community meeting on June 30th at the ASB centre, concerns were expressed that the Resource consent for the foreshore at Shelly Bay is an immediate threat and that the GW officers will make consent as non-notifiable because the environmental damage will be adjudged to be ‘no more than minor’. Our legal advisor thinks they are likely to assess it as such. 

If non-notifiable, the consent can be given quickly; if notifiable, the public submission process will likely take 6+ months. It is suggested that the community start a letter-writing campaign to Daran Ponter Chair, Greater Wellington Regional Council requesting that this resource consent be notified.

You can voice your concern about the proposed Shelly Bay development. Ian Cassels of the Wellington Company, the developer concerned, has said “We won’t build it If the people don’t want it “. But it will require us to make our voices heard. Not one building has been erected yet.

The following are questions to ask Daran which are the concerns for your request:

– The environmental impacts which are associated with: discharges (stormwater and potential wastewater overflow) to the coastal marine area (CMA).
– The construction of the seawall and any other structures in the Coastal Marine area.
– The potential impact to the aquifer associated with the removal and/or reconstruction of the jetty.
– The impact to the natural habitat of wildlife eg. Blue penguins.

Enterprise Miramar statement, 12th of July 2021

EMPI reiterated the concerns about the road. While I was listening to the speaker going over the physical limits it would impose on traffic, I couldn’t help to grin listening to a BID like Enterprise Miramar, supposedly in support of more traffic and more business, standing for the community and its wellbeing.

A few speakers later, a presentation of the alternative vision for Shelly Bay and Mount Crawford was presented. These have been seen and released last year and while the presentation was squeezed due to time, the development known at The Park, in Newtown was also mentioned. Mau Whenua, who has been delivering and is now managing this development, emphasized how much the community had been involved throughout each stages, something they intend to keep doing if they can get their land back.

When the meeting was over, countless discussions were sparked between people in the audience. I approached Dr Elizabeth Kerekere, and asked if there was anything central government could do about Shelly Bay. She was cautious and underpromising, but made the point that the fight at Shelly Bay was far from being isolated in the country.

I left the meeting with an understanding that not all hope is lost. It is faint, but not completely gone.

2 thoughts on “Will Shelly Bay be saved?

  1. Hi Benoit

    As a former Wellingtonian who escaped to the Wairarapa two years ago, I enjoy reading the Inside Wellington articles as a means of keeping up with the happenings in the capital. You write very well and this latest piece deals with an issue of vital interest to many people.

    Can I ask for just one change to make understanding your posts easier? There is a convention of not using an abbreviation such as EMPI or BID without in the first reference to it using its full name. Adopting this rule would be very helpful to those of us less familiar with the various players in the Wellington field of socio-political engagement.

    Please keep up your great work!

    Colin Slade


    1. Kia Ora Colin,

      Thanks for your feedback.
      Very good point. I will pay more attention to the use of acronyms, starting with my next article.


      Liked by 1 person

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