The current Centennial Park Management Plan can be viewed here.
The pathway to this management plan has been tortuous and conflict ridden. Some of the steps towards this management plan our outlined below.
In 1976 a group of people formed the Centennial Park Bush Society in response to council clearing an area of “scrub”. What the council did not appreciate was that this scrub was the beginnings of a new native forest. The manuka they were felling was the nursery for young totara, kauri, rimu and kahikatea which now, 30 years later are bursting through the manuka canopy. Many of these forest giants were planted and nurtured by the Bush Society. But planting is only the icing on the cake when it comes to restoring an area of bush. The bush was full of self sown pine trees, which volunteers ring barked, causing them to slowly die back and give space to the native bush which could not compete. This work was initiated by Professor John Morton and his wife Pat. John Morton was a professor of zoology, national president of Forest and Bird and was instrumental in saving Whirinaki Forest, Waitutu forest and the West Coast Beech forests. He should know what he is talking about. Now where once was a pine forest, is healthy emergent native bush. Volunteers continue to pull out new pine seedlings which appear regularly.
Along came health and safety legislation and a risk averse culture in council which said that no longer can pines be ring barked. These dying trees might fall and kill someone. Never mind that they were in the middle of the bush away from the tracks. The Bush Society, whose volunteers see first hand what a detrimental effect pines have on native bush, applied for permission to fell some of them each year, planting 10 native trees for every pine removed. Our wise local politicians on the then Takapuna Community Board saw the sense in this, with the added bonus that this would cost the council nothing as the volunteers would raise the funds themselves. The parks department wrote supportive letters. The resource consent application was duly notified heard and consent given with strict conditions.
This sort of pine removal work is not unusual. It is quite common for those involved in nurturing native bush to remove or kill pines. It is accepted that pines will naturally pop up in native bush from wind blown seeds. The conservation department, ARC and conservation groups all over New Zealand are involved in pine control. Wilding pines are a serious issue in many bush blocks, Tongariro National Park, Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country. Recently a bush restoration group and Auckland City were awarded a national conservation award for removing pines in McKenzie Bush on Waiheke. The Herald featured an article recently about the restoration of Rotoroa Island where 20,000 pines have been felled and mulched, replaced by thousands of native plants.
Centennial Park has a management plan, which guides activities in the park. This was revised in 2008 -2009. The Takapuna Community Board heard submissions and has approved a draft plan for the approval of council. Copies of the final draft of this plan are available from North Shore City Council Ph 486 8600, or can be downloaded at 091001 Final Draft Centennial Park Plan
This is a very different beast from the Management-Plan-For-Centennial-Park 1997. Specifically this existing plan supports the gradual reduction of pines in the park whereas the new one prohibits this. No reasoning is provided. In fact the new plan even suggests that pines support natural regeneration – breaking news in restoration ecology.
The contentious issues in the plan, and the main reason for its review, relate to the proposed removal of wattle trees in the area south of Rae Rd, pine removals and removal of acmena. CPBS has a resource consent to remove these trees.
CPBS believes wattles have no place in our parks as they are a significant invasive weed. However the final draft also suggests removing landowner consent for the pine reduction program and to spin out the removal of acmena over an unspecified time frame. This is disastrous for the bush and a kick in the guts to the hard working volunteers who have spent so much time working to get this resource consent, raise funds, get the work done, plant and maintain the planting areas. Every aspect of this work is compliant with the conditions of the Resource Consent. Tree removals are funded privately by the Bush Society. The work need cost the council nothing.
These 3 files show before and after photos of tree work done by the Bush Society
More importantly the Parks Officers who wrote this plan have completely ignored the recommendations of an independent ecologist report, that the council requested to help guide the restoration of the Centennial Park Bush. This report from Wildlands Consultants can be downloaded here. Wildlands report 12-12-07. In addition they have done a complete flip-flop on their initial support for this work, for no sound reason.
This plan is yet to be voted on by the council. It is bad news for democracy, it is bad news for the bush, and it is bad news for the rest of North Shore parks.
The resolutions the Parks Officers/TCB subcommittee are asking the TCB to pass are in the following two files
A time line of how we got to this point is in this file – READ THIS – 090520 History of Resource consent 4
The following files give you more idea of the process and detail we had to go through to get this consent.
040902 Parks Advice re wattle removal recommended wattle be removed, approved by past and current Parks Manager
050419 Environmental Services arborist report for consent supports wattle and pine reduction program
A Fully notified resource consent with hearings before 3 independent commissioners. The vast weight of submissions in favour of the application, including Forest and Bird North Shore, Professor John Morton.
050701 Resource Consent for tree work outlines staging and conditions of consent
070329 Letter from Parks Officer outlining need to review management plan
ARPMS 2007 re wattle Information in Regional Pest Management Strategy re wattles
090216 TCB-extraordinary-meeting-minutes These minutes contain a number of factual errors. In fact CPBS has planted 2000-3000 plants per annum since 2005.
In March 2009 CPBS wrote a formal complaint to the CEO of NSCC regarding the advice given by the Parks Dept and processes around the review. 090306 Letter to CEO complaint
090323 Letter in response to complaint to NSCC CEO This letter is not considered an adequate response to the complaint.
On Waiheke Island, Auckland City Council took home the coveted “outstanding project” award at the NZ Recreation Association annual conference for a project at McKenzie Reserve turning a plantation of pines into a botanic native reserve – exactly what we are trying to do!
CPBS complained to the Ombudsman 091007 complaint to Ombudsman
The CPBS wrote to the CEO complaining about our resource consent being effectively overturned 091127 Letter to CEO NSCC . However it appears that the CEO does not respond to complaints but merely refers them to the department being complained about 091201 response to letter to CEO
The Ombudsman found that due process had been followed correctly so was unable to assist us. 091215 Obudsman
The parks department and the community board are determined to overturn landowner consent for the work we have been awarded resource consent to do 091222 Hughes response 2
In May 2010 the North Shore City Parks committee finally approved the Centennial Park Management Plan. This was after the draft plan from the TCB was rejected twice and referred back to the TCB. The plan is not perfect from the CPBS perspective, containing some factual errors and ambiguities which may come back to haunt us. The way is now clear to stop spending money on bureacracy and continue making a positive difference to our park.
Luckily CPBS has a better relationship with the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board which now controls the park.