December 2015 Newsletter

Member Update, December 2015

Season’s greetings

The executive committee of the association sends all members very best wishes for the Christmas season. We hope it will be enjoyed with loved family and friends.

There has been a lot happening since the AGM in August and, as its last act for the year the committee wishes to alert members to a new mode of communication in 2016, a major issue that potentially affects many residents, as well as to review 2015 and look at what else is coming up.

New website – watch this space

To keep members up to date and to help new residents learn more about St Mary’s Bay, the association will launch a website early in the new year. We recognise the need for more frequent and effective communication with members – news, current issues, submissions, consultations, membership information, useful links, history of the area, archives, they’ll all be there.

We are looking forward to greater communication and participation from members.

If you have any interesting photographs, either old or new, of the area which could be used on the site, do let us know. E-mail

Protecting St Mary’s Bay heritage

You may have seen recent media reports about Auckland Council’s proposal to seek intensification of housing in Auckland by reducing the extent of single house zones throughout the city as part of the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP for short).

When the PAUP (which is the council’s creation) was first published its proposed single house zone was to take the place of the Residential 1 zone under the operative plan. Council has recently made known that it plans to seek the approval of the PAUP Independent Hearing Panel to allow intensification in areas that were part of (council’s) originally proposed single house zones, by changing them to higher density mixed use zoning. This was not signalled at the time the PAUP was first published, nor was it part of council’s original submission on the PAUP.

As a consequence of the process put in place for reviewing the Unitary Plan and the late emergence of this intensification policy, homeowners in (present) residential 1 zones, who could be affected but did not make an individual submission because they thought their property was adequately protected under the PAUP as initially published, cannot make a submission on the Council’s proposed change. Even worse, the council is not planning to tell individual homeowners who may be affected.

Several groups, including the umbrella group Auckland 2040 (addressing issues on a city-wide basis) and the Herne Bay Residents Association, have challenged council’s entitlement “to move the goalposts” at this stage in the process without notice to persons potentially affected. The Independent Hearing Panel heard submissions on this in October. It is unclear whether it will give a decision on the point ahead of its findings on the PAUP as a whole.

The association gave a submission on the PAUP in 2014 supporting the extensive single house zone in St Mary’s Bay as, coupled with what is known as a heritage character overlay and a restriction on demolition of pre-1944 buildings, it protects the special character of the area. This submission qualifies us to submit on the proposed change.

Initial plans released by council suggested that St Mary’s Bay was not directly affected by the proposed change (as distinct from Herne Bay where there are some significant and concerning changes). The association sought clarification before deciding whether to pursue a mediation hearing on the point. The council response was:

The Association also seeks reassurance that the Single House zone provisions, in conjunction with the Historic Heritage overlay, for the remainder of the St Marys Bay area will afford the same amount of protection to that which currently exists in the Operative Plan under the Res 1 zone. The purpose of the Historic Heritage overlay is to provide the same level of protection to that which currently exists under the Operative Plan in the Res 1 zone.

Just two days ago (December 17) council released plans showing the zoning under the proposed change. From its city-wide perspective Auckland 2040 is horrified by the extent of the changes, particularly given the way in which council has introduced them. However, happily for St Mary’s Bay residents, the plans show there is no change in the PAUP for our area. The committee will continue to monitor this issue in case there are any further changes which could affect us, before deciding whether to participate in hearings on zoning in early 2016.

As a separate matter, the association has also noted that council proposes changing a general “special character” overlay over the zoning of land owned by the Catholic Church in New Street. It sought clarification of the council’s position on this. Council’s response was:

The Associations’ letter refers to its concerns over the deletion of the Special Character overlay on New Street (specifically what looks to be the St Mary’s College site and the church and tennis club land across the road) and the lack of consultation regarding this. The overlay appears to have been removed over the school field, classroom and open space areas where no heritage value exists. The heritage buildings on the site, however, are protected by the Historic Heritage Extent of Place Provisions (depicted by purple hashing on the maps). The heritage provisions are being dealt with under topic 079 which is separate to the rezoning topic as this deals with the underlying zone only. If this matter remains of concern to the Association it should be party to those proceedings.

The association’s executive committee will meet in the New Year to decide whether it sees any need to pursue this point.

Association celebrates 40th anniversary!

A rolling slide show of photos set the scene for a convivial gathering to celebrate the St Mary’s Bay Association’s 40th anniversary. This milestone, was held at the Richmond Yacht Club, following the AGM on August 15. All members were invited and those who attended enjoyed reminiscing over past achievements, current issues, and just having a general catch-up with neighbours. The SMBA has come a very long way since its first meeting at the Leys Institute in 1975, and our historic little area would now be a very different place if some of the, at times alarming, proposals for it had not been challenged by the SMBA, and new options presented.

For a full list of challenges and achievements over the years click here.

First life members – congratulations

Three founding members of the St Mary’s Bay Association were awarded the inaugural life memberships of the association at the 2015 annual general meeting in August. They are: founding chair Kim Goldwater, long-time chair Tony Skelton and committee member and a former chair John Hill.

The life memberships were granted “for outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing the historic area of St Mary’s Bay and its environs”. Serving on a voluntary community organisation calls for a huge time commitment and much behind-the-scenes work. These people all deserve our sincere thanks.

Tony takes a bow

Longtime chairman Tony Skelton, a name which became synonymous with

the St Mary’s Bay Association, stepped down as chair at the recent AGM. Without Tony’s energy, enthusiasm and hard work, the St Mary’s Bat reserve could have been lost to motorway widening and the Westhaven Marina would have been been much less attractive.

Tony always made sure the views of the St Mary’s Bay Association were heard at council and government level. The association developed a strong voice and a great deal of respect – and became known for doing its homework and not taking ‘No’ for an answer.

John Hill, also a founding member, paid tribute to Tony’s achievements.

In recognition of his years of service and influence, the association presented Tony with a caricature of himself, commissioned from award-winning NZ Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson.

In his farewell address, Tony looked ahead at the future for community organisations in an increasingly bureaucratic world. To read Tony’s full address, click here.’ (This links to Tony’s farewell address file)

Meet our new chairman

David Abbott, new chairman of the St Mary’s Bay Association, has lived in Seymour St since 1985. He has had a long career in law and recently retired as a judge.

David is no stranger to volunteer community work: as a supporter of the Grey Lynn Neighbourhood Law Centre in its formative years, as convenor of legal rosters in the Ponsonby and Grey Lynn Citizens Advice Bureaus for many years, and as member of the Western Bays Community Committee for a short time in 1980s.

He has worked with a youth opera group (including forming it into a charitable trust and being one of its trustees), and was president of the University of Auckland’s alumni organisation for several years.

“I believe in developing active, caring communities through building relationships and identifying common interests,” said David.

Goodbye Alastair and hello Alison and Cameron

Also new to the committee are Alison Hunter and Cameron Loader. Both work as property consultants and bring invaluable skills to the committee.

And after many years on the committee Alastair Acland stepped down at the 2015 annual general meeting. His calm manner and incisive comments will be missed.

Parking changes next year

Parking monitoring is going electronic –and from early next year five extra streets are to be included in the St Mary’s Bay parking zone.

A survey drew strong community support for the inclusion in the zone of Hackett St, Swift Ave, Ring Tce, Amiria St and Percival Parade. The St Mary’s Bay residential parking zone trial has been operating since July 2012 and as part of Auckland Transport’s new parking strategy this trial zone will become permanent, once the new electronic systems are set up, sometime early next year.

You can read the full strategy at strategy but the key changes for permit holders will be:

  • Cap – the total number of permits issued in a residential parking zone will be capped at 85% of the total number of on-street parking spaces in the zone. Permits will then be allocated on a priority basis, with properties with no off-street parking being the highest priority and businesses within the zone the lowest.
  • Digital permits – no physical permit will be issued or displayed. Licence plate recognition technology will identify whether or not a vehicle has a valid permit.
  • Visitor permits – daily permits, called coupons, will replace the annual visitor permits. Residents qualify for 50 free visitor coupons per year with additional coupons available for $5 per day. AT will move to an online booking system with a phone app option.
  • Enforcement – AT will use licence plate recognition enforcement, where cameras are mounted on a vehicle. The camera will recognise each vehicle’s plate number and detect parking permits, coupons and overstays.

$3 million for safer Herne Bay-to-CBD streets

Auckland Transport has invited the SMBA and Herne Bay Residents Association to put forward ideas for a 3km section of the Auckland Urban Cycleways network running from the corner of Jervois Rd and Salisbury St to Sarsfield St and along the lower part of Curran St, leading to Westhaven Drive. This will not be a dedicated cycleway; instead changes are aimed at making the streets safer for local residents, cyclists, walkers and drivers. $3 million is available for this stretch of the network. A sub-committee has been established to report back with suggestions.

For more information about the Auckland Urban Cycleways Programme see


Harbour tunnel update

Regular meetings with the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) are keeping the association in the loop on the proposed tunnel across the Waitemata harbour.

However, the association believes the targeted finish date of 2030 date is too long in view of the vulnerability of the transport and other infrastructure services carried by the harbour bridge. Should the bridge fail there is no back-up plan, and for that reason alone the additional harbour crossing is urgently needed.

The association will report progress in the first half of 2016.

Sewage spills in St Mary’s Bay

Sewage has been reported in St Mary’s Bay, possibly caused by stormwater overflows into the sewerage system. Tom Warren, general manager, Westhaven marinas, has been seeking clarification from Auckland Council, and requesting that a sign be erected if necessary. Council responded that all information about beach safety is on its Swimsafe website.

Note: This year St Mary’s Bay has been included in the regional Swimsafe programme, with weekly samples taken to check water safety.

Want to contact us?

Contact details: Wendy Moffett, secretary