Friday, 23 September 2011

About Blueskin Bay Watch

by Rosemary Penwarden

During a recent AGM we realised that some of us in Waitati have new
neighbours who may not have heard of Blueskin Bay Watch (BBW), so here
is a brief rundown of how we began and what we do.

BBW formed in 2005 in response to the purchase of Opeke, the peninsula
that sits in the centre of our Blueskin Bay village and overlooks the
estuary. Opeke used to be a wild and wonderful place, full of very old
trees, planted when Waitati was first settled by Pakeha, and lots of
overgrown gorse that was slowly reverting to native bush. It was one
of those places that young Waitatians loved to explore -- usually
without mum or dad's permission. It is now owned by developer Allan
Dippie and is surrounded by a white picket fence, criss-crossed with
roads that look remarkably like the beginning of a quite large
subdivision, and lined with poplars (the poplars are a topic for a
future Blueskin News…watch this space).

In the usual scheme of things communities don't get a say when areas
of land in and around them get bought up by developers. Often
development plans are non-notified so there is no chance for the
public to submit, as was the case with Don's Creek. As well, the
Resource Management Act is stacked against communities – and just in
case there was any doubt about this, the National Government has
tweaked the act to confirm whose side they are on – any guesses?

Some of us decided it was worth keeping a close eye on Opeke, so
Blueskin Bay Watch was formed. While this single issue got us started,
our objects are wider: to advocate for sustainable development that
would retain the intrinsic character of the community, to help protect
the local flora and fauna, to be a conduit for communicating with
local bodies and governing authorities and to act as a legal entity to
represent community perspectives to places like the Environment Court.

We want to have a say about the direction our community will go.
Blueskin Bay's ecosystem would not sustain a large number of new
dwellings, such as Mr Dippie originally proposed for Opeke. We haven't
got the infrastructure to cope, and many of us are not interested in
biggering and bettering at the cost of a community lifestyle that has
chosen not to put money before all else (the rest of the world, maybe
even developers, will catch up with us eventually).

Some of the things we have been involved in since forming BBW in 2005
are writing submissions to the Dunedin City Council (DCC) re the
District Plan and Dunedin Futures, and supporting the DCC in trying to
limit the number of houses built along Wright's Road, a subdivision on
the ridge line above Evansdale. The DCC has on occasion contacted us
if a relevant local issue arises that they think we might be
interested in, like the SH1 realignment. We are currently drafting a
letter seeking confirmation of the consultation process on the
realignment which has been shelved until 2013/14.

We are a completely voluntary incorporated society. If you have a
community issue that you think we could help with, let us know. If our
aims appeal, contact us, we'd love to welcome new members. Our next
meeting is planned for February 2012 – there was mention of a cricket
match. (For more information contact Lee Paterson, secretary, 482
2889.)

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