“We thought we’d moved into a peaceful spot,” said Westmere resident Leni Ma’ia’i.
Instead, he and partner Grace Mirams found their quiet enjoyment interrupted in the past few weeks by ex-All Black Ali Williams and Zuru toy billionaire Anna Mowbray demolishing their 12-year-old house.
Trucks turning and backing, noise, vibrations and parts of their street being blocked during works caused stress and sleeplessness, they said.
“We only moved here in July,” Ma’ia’i said of them leaving Karangahape Rd’s ongoing construction.
They are now worried about the effects of a helicopter taking off and landing near their home at what Mowbray calls AJ Point. They said no one had approached them to discuss it and if they had an opportunity to, they would object to it.
“The sound of birdsong was interrupted by heavy armoury coming in and out of the construction site next door,” Ma’ia’i complained.
Environmental concerns worry them most and they question why Williams and Mowbray need a helicopter pad at Coxs Bay.
Effects on the Hawke Sea Scouts, nesting oystercatchers, swimmers, kayakers, walkers and paddleboards are some of their issues.
About 15 residents met last Thursday to talk about the application via Mt Hobson Group.
They oppose the scheme but first want to try negotiating with the couple directly to see if there is a way to resolve issues.
A musician and resident in the area said: “It’s non-complying and therefore it should be notified. This will have implications on the environment and eco-system so people should be able to have a say.
“I was born and raised here and this is quite emotional for me. It’s not just being whiney but to do with community values.”
Her mother and grandmother emigrated to the area. She has had 25 family members living in Westmere for the past 35 years “and it’s turangawaewae.”
Another neighbour said: “It’s not just the noise. That’s one of the least worrisome issues. This is going to set a precedent for other sites on Waiheke Island and in Herne Bay. Once it’s set, others will be wanting to do the same as well.”
“The meeting was to get a casual taster of how people felt. It was the first step in realising ‘shivers, if we need to stop this, we have to be heard and let people know this is going through’,” said one man.
Mowbray said this month she did not want to comment on the application because it was for her private home.
The neighbourhood group said they had met in the reserve area late Thursday afternoon and no one was in favour of it.
“This was the first time we came together. There’s a WhatsApp group that was set up already. What we’re finding is that we are not a big voice. We live in a real community neighbourhood. We don’t have any issue with the couple. But the fear is that all of a sudden, residential areas could have more helicopters,” one neighbour said.
Initially, residents plan to try to speak to the couple directly and express feelings, raise issues about problems ask if there was an alternative solution.
“Why can’t you go to Mechanics Bay?” asked on neighbour echoing Planning Committee chairman and councillor Chris Darby’s views.
“Is there another way to handle this? There are another three to four sections on the waterfront with old bungalows on them and those will clearly be developed at some point. They could also possibly include helicopter applications,” a neighbour feared.
“A lot of people have issues with the birdlife and the felling of trees. We feel as a community we can stand with the people of Waiheke and Herne Bay Residential places are not the places to have helicopters land. It’s not personal against them. Just, not in the back garden.”
“There’s birdlife, oystercatchers, sea scouts. People swim there. Unburnt fuel could come down onto the foliage. Because the application has been made non-notified, it could have been unknown about. Residents want it notified so they can have a say,” the woman said.
An architect and lawyer were in the group and were familiar with RMA.
The neighbours are talking to iwi and Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society about the oystercatcher colony.
The neighbours say they worry is for wider Auckland “apart from the fact it’s the noise and issue in our backyard. The second concern is around the birdlife which is extensive. They will abandon their nests and leave the area. The third thing is a public safety issue because lots of people swim and kayak and paddleboard and walk around that area.
“That extends into the noise factor, which we know will be excessive. Then there’s a heritage issue. The site is registered with Heritage New Zealand due to a shell midden there.
“If you look at the notable trees overlay, there are notable trees and consent needs to be granted if they are to be removed. It’s an area of cultural importance to two local iwi.”
Auckland Council’s cultural heritage inventory lists an archaeological site in the area: a shell midden along the shoreline.
“There are also half a dozen more shell midden archaeological sites along the coast within the vicinity of the property, all of which could be affected by the helicopter application,” a neighbour said.
Cox’s Bay is also listed as a Māori heritage area in relation to Ngāti Pou and Ngāti Huarere as a place of significance to mana whenua.
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