Shelly Bay hui opens with protesters and differences of opinion

10:13 am on 29 January 2020

A hui about a controversial housing development at Wellington's Shelly Bay has so far failed to win over some iwi members who bitterly oppose the plan.

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The Shelly Bay development as it had been envisaged. Photo: RNZ /SUPPLIED

Last night developer Ian Cassels and the Port Nicholson Settlement Block Trust invited the community to share their views on what they would like to see in the embattled project.

Ian Cassels from the developer, the Wellington Company, said he wanted locals to have a say on what the seaside project should look like and he hoped the hui will be a game changer.

"There's heaps of things up there, because we really do want to see what people think and we want to see whether or not we can respond positively because there's some things we can do.

"We want this to be the right development for Wellington. It'd be pride of place on the peninsula really, it'll be treasurable."

A group called Mau Whenua are now taking legal action against their own iwi's Trust arguing it sold the land at Shelly Bay in 2018 against the people's wishes.

The Port Nicholson Settlement Block Trust sold the land to the Wellington Company in 2016, which was again granted resource consent late last year.

The development was issued a resource consent back in April 2017, but that was then quashed in December 2018 following an appeal lodged by the business group Enterprise Miramar.

When a new resource consent application was filed from the developers, Wellington City Council decided to outsource the decision-making to independent commissioners who then granted the consent.

About two dozen people who showed up yesterday for the start of the three-week hui got chocolate biscuits, fruit juice and goodie bags.

The meeting room was lined with drawings of what the seaside project would look like and information on transport options like a ferry and electric vehicles. A suggestion board offered attendees a chance to share what they thought of the plans.

The efforts appeared not to have convinced Mau Whenua, who were there wearing T-shirts reading "I voted No to Shelly Bay" and "Not one more Acre".

One of the most outspoken was Catherine Love, who used the suggestion board as an opportunity to "suggest" to developers that land should be returned to iwi.

"This is all a bit of window dressing, a so-called consultation. Cassels' purchase of our land here, he's done it in bad faith and we're waiting to see him in court. We are going to continue to walk on here as the owners of our land."

Siobhan Lynch, who is affiliated with Mau Whenua and the Taranaki Whanui, said she would accept a development - but only if it was fantastic.

"If they're gonna do it, they've gotta do it well. Not good enough, they've got to do something better, it's got to have the x-factor otherwise it's just gonna be another development in a beautiful area. We need to have it so it's iconic."

Port Nicholson Trust member, Kara Puketapu-Dentice said while the Trust backed the project, iwi voices needed to be heard.

He said the hui was a 'reset' and hoped it would help build support for the development.

"We're open to opening the door and keeping the dialogue going and having continued conversations and hopefully this reset as we call it provides that opportunity.

"I think within all tribal structures you're always gonna have differences of opinion and it's just about how we navigate our way through together."

The hui is expected to continue until 15 February.

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