Wetland

In conjunction with Whangarei District Council (WDC) and the Whangaruru Coastal Community & Sports Association Inc. (WCC&SA), the Whangaruru South Residents & Ratepayers Association Inc. (WSRRA) will be embarking upon the construction of a wetland and associated infrastructure on Council owned land. The site of the proposed wetland is bordered by Waimarie Avenue to the rear of a number of private properties along Oakura Road.

As many in the community will be aware, the process to establish a wetland has been a long, drawn out one. Plans for the wetland were commissioned and produced by esteemed architect/landscape architect, Harry Turbott (deceased) a number of years ago. Another detailed plan, albeit with a much wider scope, was also produced by landscape architect, Mike Farrow of Littoralis in 2006. Despite much time, effort and finances being expended by members of the community (in particular, Colin and Deborah Glasgow), neither of these plans came to fruition.

However, in early 2019, members of the Committee (with the support of Cr Murphy) met with Council representatives to once again discuss the establishment of a wetland. Leading on from that meeting, officers from WDC undertook to perform a number of tasks, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • giving consideration to what additional requirements/information is needed prior to approval and determining whether or not resource consents are required under the relevant district plan rules;
  • reviewing the technical requirements for the next stage of the community wetland design, especially around flood risk;
  • determining what further detailed design, costings, consultation and other supporting information is needed;
  • entering discussions with the Northland Regional Council (NRC) to ascertain the necessary regional resource consenting requirements.

Following on from that meeting, our then Chairperson, Nena Rogers, presented a submission to Council on behalf of the Committee during the April 2019 consultation period for the Annual Plan. The submission was successful and resulted in a grant of $20,000 from the WDC to go towards consenting of the project as set out in the 2019-2020 Annual Plan.

Further, a group within Council was set up to assist with the wetland project and a planning assessment authored by Infrastructure Planner, Heather Osborne, was provided to the committee to determine the resource consenting requirements under the relevant rules for the WDC District Plan and the NRC Regional Plan. It was noted that, contingent on the final design, a number of expert reports may be required before construction can commence.

Unfortunately, with the advent of Covid-19 in early 2020 and the restrictions that followed, little progress was made to further the wetlands during that year and into 2021. However, WDC Parks & Recreation Manager, Sue Hodge, informed us in November of 2020 that bespoke Auckland based environmental engineering company, Morphum Environmental Ltd, had visited the site and were very excited about the project. They believed it could be constructed fairly simply and designed using some of the design data that had already been gathered. They then provided WDC with a quote to progress the necessary resource consent requirements, including consultation and design. Unfortunately this was higher than earlier estimates that had been made based on prior legislation, with a resulting shortfall of approximately $25,000. On the advice of Councillors Greg Martin and Anna Murphy, and based on a recommendation from the Infrastructure Committee chaired by Cr Martin, it was suggested that we make a submission to the Long Term Plan 2021-2031 to seek the additional funds to allow the work to progress. Our submission was successful and Council approved the allocation of a further $30,000 in the LTP to allow consultants, Morphum Environmental Ltd, to commence work in Year 1 (2021/2022).

Again, Covid-19 restrictions meant little progress was made throughout 2021. However, with the lifting of all restrictions in 2022, as a first step, representatives from Morphum Environmental Ltd travelled from Auckland in June 2022 to meet with parties from the Mokau Marae. That same day, a meeting also took place on site that included members from WSRRA, to enable Morphum to gather information from all parties and conduct site analysis, with the intended aim of compiling the necessary reports, technical assessment and design for the wetlands in this current year.

In August 2020, WDC through engagement with nga hapū of Whangarei, specifically through Te Huinga and Te Kārearea representatives, approved the Three Waters Better Off Funding (Tranche 1) priority programmes, outcomes and funding allocations. A sum of $850,000.00 has been approved for the Oakura Sports Park Development and Wetland Restoration. This will enable the realignment of the existing playing field and the addition of a second playing field to be fast tracked, as well as the provision of hardcourts (netball and basketball), new carpark, lighting, landscaping, earthworks, drainage and the wetland with associated pathways. The finer details have yet to be worked out; however this is a huge step forward for Oakura and the wider Whangaruru community.

The Whangaruru South Residents & Ratepayers Assoc. Inc. looks forward to working in collaboration with Council, the Whangaruru Coastal Community & Sports Association Inc. and Morphum Environmental on this project and will provide assistance wherever possible to ensure its success. We will provide regular updates as more information comes to hand.

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