May 2018 Newsletter No 2

PO Box 47376, Auckland 1144. Website:


Dear members,

Important public meeting – 7pm, Thursday May 31, Richmond Yacht Club, Westhaven

$44 million St Mary’s Bay/Masefield Beach water improvement project:
Great idea…or is it?

It’s crunch time. After nearly two years of planning, Auckland Council’s stormwater section (Healthy Waters) has applied for a resource consent to construct the infrastructure for the St Mary’s Bay/Masefield Beach water improvement project. Deadline for submissions is June 19.

The St Mary’s Bay Association and the Herne Bay Residents Association both have concerns about the $44 million project and have taken the unusual step of calling a combined public meeting so residents can understand the implications and ask questions.


You will recall from previous newsletters and Healthy Waters’ information open days that the aim is to reduce pollutants entering the waters of St Mary’s Bay/Westhaven and adjacent Masefield Beach.
In essence, Council is proposing to build a large underground tunnel from London St, through St Mary’s Bay reserve, to a pump station at Point Erin, with an outlet pipe to a discharge point under the Harbour Bridge.

This infrastructure is intended to capture sewage/wastewater/stormwater overflows from St Mary’s catchment and the eastern end of the Herne Bay catchment, and pump them back into the combined wastewater/stormwater system when it has capacity. It is known that it will not always be possible to pump the held water back into the combined system, in which case the captured overflows will be discharged into the harbour.

At first glance, the project seems a “no-brainer” – it has to be better that what we have at present, doesn’t it? But does it tick all the necessary boxes?

Initially SMBA, as the association closest to the project, was supportive of it because it promised significant improvements within a reasonably short timeframe. However, as detail of the project has emerged, so too have concerns about technical and aesthetic aspects, and its cost-effectiveness. As one point (on the environmental consequences) have a look at the following sketch of the vents that are proposed for the city end of the tunnel – looking along London Street from its intersection with New Street.

SMBA (and adjoining Herne Bay Residents Association (HBRA)) believe important questions still need answers.

What we want to know

• Will this $44 million project, in fact, deliver the promised benefits?
• Does it solve, or merely shift the problem (both geographically and in time)?
• Are there alternative, potentially more cost-effective solutions?
• What does it mean for St Mary’s Bay property owners above the tunnel?
• How will the 10m high ventilation stacks in London St and ?? impact views?
• What does it do for the current leaking, aging, obsolete or unserviceable infrastructure?
• How will it relate to other projects to clean up our beaches in the Waitemata?

The deadline for submissions on Council’s application is 19 June and the community must decide how to respond. The SMBA and HBRA will both be making submissions, and we encourage individual to do so as well.
A flyer has been distributed to all residents in the two areas, inviting them to attend the joint public meeting.
This is too important to let it slip through without your input. Do come to the meeting.

The resource consent application can be viewed at

Last chance to comment on the Cup bases

Last day for submissions on the location of the America’s Cup bases is Monday, May 28.

The three big players in America’s Cup planning have agreed on locations in Wynyard Quarter for the team bases. The only extension of structures into the harbour will be a 35m extension to Hobson Wharf. See details in the resource consent application link here:

SMBA still has concerns about hazards arising from proximity of some bases to the remaining tank farm and will keep working with council to resolve these concerns.

In our submission to the earlier application (now withdrawn) we also expressed concerns about the relocation of the fishing fleet and the Sealink ferry base.

The present application will require temporary relocation of the fishing fleet, but we are told that it will return to its present locations when the completion ends. However, the move of the Sealink ferries will be permanent and the subject of a separate application at a later date.

Security in the Reserve

The St Mary’s Bay Association met with police recently to discuss security risks in the Reserve. This followed a 5am attack on a woman jogging through the reserve. Fortunately, a cyclist heard the woman’s screams and came to her aid. The offender ran off and appears to have fled by climbing over several fences in private property. A man has since been charged.

Several SMBA committee members joined two police officers for a “walk through” of the reserve to identify areas where security could be improved. Better lighting, installation of CCTV cameras and trimming of some bushes were all discussed.

The police will now prepare a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design report. This will include observations from the “walk through” and general information on trends relating to reports of incidents in the reserve. This report should be most helpful when the SMBA meets with Auckland Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency (which owns part of the reserve) to discuss the need for improved security measures.

The opening of the pedestrian overbridge in 2012 provided a direct link between the increasing activity in Wynyard Quarter and the reserve, which runs alongside the motorway. Wynyard Quarter has become a busy entertainment precinct, attracting people from many parts of Auckland. Visiters to the area will increase significantly during the upcoming America’s Cup. In 2011 the association requested the installation of a CCTV camera in the reserve, but this did not happen.

More trees for St Mary’s Rd

Additional trees are to be planted along St Mary’s Road – but the project has been scaled down.

The Waitemata Local Board has decided to remove five dead or dying trees and to plant 22 new trees at a cost of $5000.
St Mary’s Road is the gateway to St Mary’s Bay and earlier the board had approved $20,000 to create an impressive avenue of 40 trees, all of the same type, subject to consultation with local residents and the St Mary’s Bay Association. This would have involved removal of some healthy trees, mainly silver birch.

The decision to scale down the project followed a questionnaire only to residents living in St Mary’s Road. Most of the 25 responses indicated preference for small to medium evergreen trees. Two respondents were against the removal of any healthy trees and three respondents questioned the need to spend any money on trees at all.

The board has decided to plant tawapou (planchonelle costata), a native with colourful berries which attract birds. Where it is not practicable to plant the tawapou, a five finger (pseudopanax arboreus) will be planted.

The board will review the project once these trees have been planted, with a view to possibly undertaking further planting.

Why no chimes?

What happened to the chimes on the old Ponsonby Post Office clock tower?

A SMBA member brought this up at the last annual general meeting, so we decided to find out.

Apparently, the chimes were silenced about 10 years ago, following complaints from local residents about the noise keeping them awake at night.

Auckland Council says the chiming mechanism remains in place but would require considerable work to get the chimes operating again.

The clock is wound manually each week by council contractors.

Do you know WordPress?

Help! Our small team of St Mary’s Bay Association volunteers would really appreciate some help with our website.
We try to update it every 6-8 weeks and we’re looking for a member who could help with the WordPress programme updates. This would require only about two hours work every couple of months. No writing would be involved, simply the updates.
If you know WordPress and are willing to help, do contact our secretary Wendy Moffett on
Our website address is

Warm wishes,
David Abbott

For further information, please contact:
SMBA chair, David Abbott
SMBA secretary, Wendy Moffett

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