ON AIR: Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive

4PM - 7PM

Andrew Dickens: Gobbling up greenfields not the solution to our housing crisis

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Sunday, 25 August 2019, 10:38AM
Why build on Ihumātao when there are so many other sites around Auckland? (Photo / NZ Herald)

There are fairly substantial rumours of a deal at Ihumātao. King Tuheitia and Tainui have been talking with Fletchers on behalf of the mana whenua. All of them. The protesters and the elders who brokered the original deal.

The talk is that Tainui will take the land off Fletcher's hands. This is a win win. Fletcher's doesn't want to build there anymore and it's become a white elephant around their necks. This is obvious because the protesters are still there.

Some strident critics like Simon Bridges have been urging the Prime Minister to chuck the protesters off the land. Completely ignoring the fact that the land is privately owned by Fletcher's. It's their problem. It's their responsibility to evict the protesters.

You can't have governments storming onto private land and throwing people off left right and centre. Not unless you're a communist or totalitarian.

If you believe in private property rights then it was right for the government to be hands off, which I believe they have been apart from asking all parties to have another talk about things. But that might turn out to be good advice. Far better advice than creating headlines with a police force storming a campsite.

So if Tainui buys the land, what next? They couldn't build houses on it that's for sure. Chris Finlayson has suggested it could be the site of a golf course or perhaps another Tainui airport hotel.

But if this is over perhaps we can look again at some of things that caused the protest.

Houses were going to be built at Ihumātao because the land had been designated as a Special Housing Accord area by the Auckland Council and the Housing Minister of the time, Nick Smith.

This was their response to the great housing crisis. Just stick some houses on some vacant land as soon as possible and look like you're trying to increase supply. A panicked over reaction that ignored decent planning. Planning like transport and infrastructure and the building of communities instead of little boxes in farm fields.

I always thought that was nuts. Just take a drive around the Ihumātao peninsula and it's patently obvious that a Fletcher suburb there is not the right thing.

Gobbling up greenfields and productive farmland is not an answer to our housing shortfall and growth. Many say the rural urban boundary should go but that would just mean sprawl. Ashley Church pointed out in an editorial that within in Auckland's current boundary there are 137,000 development sites. Let's do that before we eat green fields packed full of history like Ihumātao.

ON AIR: Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive

4PM - 7PM