Takapuna Holiday Park: is it safe yet or not?

Taka _holiday _park

Not much has, it seems.

I fell into conversation with an ‘inmate’, who was parked up in a smart Elddis Crusader caravan. I asked him if he’d heard any news about the camping ground’s fate.

“Only that the fat lady hasn’t started singing,” he said. “I thought the battle was won but there seems to be some doubt about that.”

I rang Gavin Sheehan, the Save Takapuna Beach Holiday Park organiser, and learned the argument has transformed into much more than a battle to respect history and save a camping ground; it’s a fight for democracy.

In July last year Takapuna-Devonport Local Board held a public opinion poll. There were four options:

  1. Retain and upgrade the holiday park (80 percent of votes).
  2. Allow Yachting New Zealand (YNZ) to build on the land (8 percent of votes).
  3. Turn the camp into an open reserve (9 percent of votes).
  4. A mix of all three (2 percent of votes).

Obviously, 89 percent of those polled did not want YNZ to have use of the land.

At a meeting in December, the local board had little option but to grant the camp a 10-year lease, with two 10-year rights of renewal.

But using his casting vote, chairman Joseph Bergin allowed nearly 600 square metres to be carved-off. This opened the way for YNZ to apply to lease it.

Which part of 89 percent, I wonder, did Bergin, the board members that agreed with him, and YNZ, not understand?

And then came another bid.

“YNZ made an application for the carved off section to be increased to 1050 square metres,” Gavin tells me. “So it was back to the board.”

The meeting was scheduled for July, 2016. On the night a feisty crowd of protestors gathered, speeches in hand. But just 40 minutes before the meeting was to begin, YNZ wrote an email withdrawing its application.

It looked like a victory of sorts, but consent for the carved off section can still be applied for.

“That yachty lot have got their heads so far in the sand they can’t see daylight,” said my Crusader friend.“Rumour is they’ll re-group and, after the local body elections in October, have another go.”

I haven’t yet taken up arms on this issue but I will do if YNZ come back to challenge.

Meantime it’s a matter of where-to next. Everybody agrees the camp must be upgraded, but no one seems to be sure who is going to pick up the tab for what. For most of us I guess it’s a matter of watching the space, which, at least for the moment, seems to have been saved.

Jill Malcolm is a former editor of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations and author of the Great Kiwi Motorhome Guide.

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