Great attendance at the Piha R&R AGM on January 10th.
A big thank you to Graeme Carrie for an insightful report on the Piha Lagoon and to Waitakere Ward Councilor, Shane Henderson for Taking questions from the members on a range of topics, but particularly the Piha Road project, the Piha Lagoons pollution issues, Kauri Dieback and the Waitakere Tracks and Auckland Council finances. Also attending were the MP for Waitakere Ranges Dr. Deborah Russell and Waitakere Ranges Local Board members, Mark Allen, Michelle Clayton, Sandra Coney and Ken Turner and we thank them for their support of the Piha community.
Graeme Carrie presented a report on the status of the Piha Lagoon pollution issues and working with Auckland Council to address them. While Council are working on reducing point source pollution from private and public septic waste systems, consultant reports show that for long term success, it is necessary to have periodic tidal flushing. Piha R&R have proven that this can be achieved at low cost when not occurring naturally, but Council are making it difficult to undertake this work. It is essential to keep the lagoon breathing by providing a natural, healthy, estuarian habitat with regular intake of seawater and exhausting of stagnant water.
Councilor Shane Henderson took questions on the Piha Road upgrade project. At present, due to Covid 19 the previously approved funding for this project has now been reallocated to the 2021-2022 budget year (Beginning July 2021). A variety of points were made by members including poor repair work, inefficiency of the road works contractor, bus sizes, storm water and footpaths. Shane assured the meeting that community consultation would take place before work commenced.
Council finances were discussed, with members raising questions about the budget deficits and losses due to derivative hedging losses. Shane opined that Council had been under investing in infrastructure for many years and were now having to deal with the consequences.
Members questioned whether work on Waitakere Ranges tracks in the area had halted. Doubt was expressed that the targeted rate money for the Natural Environment was actually being properly expended. Shane assure the meeting that it was and that work was proceeding.
Progress that Shane had been making earlier in the year on Public Transport in the Ranges was delayed by COVID-19. Providing public transport to major tourist destinations is critical for addressing climate change. Members raised the option of smaller sized feeder buses to operate between Piha and Henderson or Glen Eden train station to link with other public transport option.
The meeting voted to maintain current Piha R& Association fee structure as recommend and a full roster of members was elected for the coming year. Committee Members elected are Ken Cowan, President; Hanneke Bouchier, Vice President; Graham Cleghorn, Treasurer; Graeme Carrie; Jane Caley; James Dickenson; Mike Hales; Sean O’Brien; Natasha Tomlinson; Phoebe O’Brien; Blair Strang and Daniel Caley.