Protecting Le Roys from RMA and under the Auckland Unitary Plan

What risks are in the 2013/2014 proposed changes to the RMA?

Learn more at the Forest and Bird North Shore Branch Meeting – Monday 7 October, 7.45pm
Why we need our world-leading RMA – Rod Oram – NOT TO BE MISSED!
The government’s proposed changes to the Resource Management Act are bad news for both the environment and public participation. Our speaker Rod Oram will consider the bad and good of business and the environment. Rod is a well-known business commentator on Radio NZ and in the Sunday Star Times who frequently reflects on the environmental consequences of business decisions. He will describe the Resource Management Act’s virtues and concerns in light of the government's reforms of it.

Save The RMA from the proposed restructure of sections 6 and 7
The government is planning some streamlining of some provisions of the RMA and also a major restructuring of sections 6 and 7 which put the fundamental principles of environmental protection at risk;  the restructuring also risks creating considerable chaos and costs in uncertainty and litigation.  Write to your local MP, the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Environment.
Read what the following articles have to say about the RMA:

Special Resource Management Act Workshop, Saturday 9 November, 1–5pm

From the Forest and Bird magazine:
Are you an activist? Do you submit on plans like the Takapuna Beach Reserve or the Unitary Plan? Have you wanted to write a submission on a plan or development but not known where to start? Then this FREE workshop is for you.
The Environmental Defence Society is running a half-day workshop on the Resource Management Act from on Saturday 9 November at Channel View Lounge in the Mary Thomas Centre, 3 Gibbons Road, Takapuna.
This is a special workshop aimed at upskilling and updating Forest & Bird members and others in RMA processes. EDS specialists will present an overview of the law including recent amendments and will give practical advice on how to prepare and present effective submissions. The workshop will also update attendees on the notified Auckland Unitary Plan, identify areas of environmental interest and outline the special engagement processes for communities.
EDS is experienced in running these workshops and Forest & Bird is urging all interested branch members and activists to attend. Max 50 participants. To register, write to or contact Fiona Driver at 480 2565.

Protecting Le Roys and its surrounds under the Auckland Unitary Plan

The new Auckland Unitary Plan was released on the internet on 15 March.

We warmly recommend that all interested parties make submission to the Auckland Unitary Plan.  We will be contacting LRB supporters soon to suggest some aspects of the Unitary Plan they may wish to submit on.

In the meantime if you want to explore the plan here are some links:

The entry point is
 From here you can go to Click to view the e-plan.
 - and have a look at the plan text (
 - and at the maps (

 In the Planning Enquiry tool ( you can enter street addresses to look at the zoning and overlays etc that apply to that address.

We are told it is important that everyone makes a submission to support those parts of the plan they like and to propose practical improvements to those sections they disagree with. 

If you would like to help with analysing the Unitary Plan and preparing a submission, please get in touch.

New campaign site about the RMA amendment

One of our members is involved in developing a campaign website:

This is a follow-up to the campaign that we led with Jonathan Coleman and Nick Smith in 2009.

Proposed amendments to the RMA impacting on tree protection - email to Jonathon Coleman 5 Dec 2012

Dear Jonathan

Further to our discussions about Le Roys Bush and the RMA, I have just received this EDS newsletter which notes that the amendments to the RMA will impact on urban trees.

Would you be able to advise our group please whether the proposed changes will impact on the native bush in the residential bush protection zones around Le Roys Bush and other similar reserves protected by the North Shore City Council and preceding elected bodies?

I hope that you will be able to reassure us that the bush protection zones will remain in place.

Warmest regards

Keith Salmon

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Environmental Defence Society Newsletter <>
Date: 5 December 2012 17:04
Subject: Media Release: Another set of amendments to the Resource Management Act

The most controversial changes would further restrict the ability of Councils to protect significant urban trees. The Bill overrules an Environment Court decision in 2011 and requires tree protection rules in plans to identify individual trees or a cluster, grove, or line of trees in a schedule to the plan by street address and/or legal description of the land.

“This is imposing a massively bureaucratic responsibility on Councils and not all of them will have the capacity to carry out this exercise.

“Eighty seven percent of New Zealanders live in urban areas and trees contribute significantly to amenity values in the urban environment. The proposed amendments make it hugely difficult to protect urban trees and would be a step towards a future of barren, lifeless cities. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of opposition to these changes.


Decision of Environment Court regarding blanket tree declaration (re RMA Amendment) May 2011

Sounds like the Court has supported the submissions of the North Shore and Waitakere City Councils.
Here is a link to the Court decision:

Hopefully the decision will preserve the North Shore City Council's wise protection of Residential Bush Protection zones.
And thereby save the Auckland Council a lot of money.

However, we will need to be vigilant - whoever encouraged the government to implement the last sledgehammer against the environment may try again.

Our congratulations to the Council officers and elected representatives who took this case to the Environment Court.

It is worth noting that when the chair of the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board went to present the community's presentation, the hearing chair asked her to stop because they had heard it all before.  When a LRB Committee member wrote to the government MPs who were on the hearing committee, they replied with a standard line that they didn't see what Aucklanders were concerned about.  Most of these MPs were from urban fringes or rural areas in the South Island.

Update on Le Roys Bush Protection following the RMA Amendment Act - May 2011

We have written to our local MP Jonathan Coleman and appeared before the Kaipatiki Local Board expressing our concern that we have not yet heard the outcome of the hearing from the Environment Court about the impact the RMA Amendment which comes into force in January next year could have on the people who live around Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal Bay reserves.

As noted in submissions to the KLB, many people have bought into properties around Le Roys Bush (and other similar reserves) because they believed that the land zoning gave their life-style aspirations some protection.  The hundreds of people who flock to our glow worm walks are testament of the importance of this amenity in their life-style choice.

The residential bush protection zoning is a separate matter from the one that the RMA amendment was addressing viz whether one needs to apply for a consent to fell individual trees.

When we met with Dr Nick Smith and Jonathan Coleman in Le Roys in 2009 (see below), his address indicated that the RMA would not impact on the protection of the areas of bush around Le Roys Bush currently covered by residential bush protection zonings.  This bush is not an aggregation of individual trees - it is an eco-system of trees and other flora and fauna that provides environmental and erosion control benefits.

Arguably property zonings should be a matter for local planning procedures. They are a democratic local government process that gives people a level of confidence in choosing to buy a home in an area. 

A change to the RMA would not be allowed to insert heavy industry into a residential area.  Nor should the RMA amendment be allowed to take away a major amenity that local democratically based planning procedures provided protection for.  People have chosen to live in an area that they could justifiably believe was protected against developers stripping clear of bush. This zoning should not be un-done without local planning procedures being undertaken.

We wrote to Nick Smith again late last year.  His reply pointed out that he cannot of course intervene in a judicial process. 

However, as time ticks by, we are starting to seek support for action that could be undertaken if the Environment Court does not support the concept that specific residential bush protection zones remain valid despite the RMA amendment.  

It would be a major loss for the people of Kaipatiki if they were to lose the visual, environmental and recreational benefits of one of our most outstanding reserves as a by-product of amending the law on tree consents.

Update on Bush and Tree Protection - May 2010

Action to preserve bush protection zones 2A and 2B  -  Please help before 16 May 2010
Since Nick Smith's visit we have heard that the NSCC and other Auckland councils are not convinced that zoning such as 2A and 2B around Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal Bay reserves will protect the bush - despite what Nick Smith said at the November 2009 meeting.

We are awaiting the outcome of the Councils seeking clarification from the Environment Court but also in the meantime will be writing to Nick Smith and Jonathan Coleman seeking their support to ensure that, if the Environment Court ruling is unfavourable, they will take steps to ensure that the commitment Nick Smith gave us will be followed up.

In the interim as a safety measure, we recommend that neighbours around the bush get together to ask the NSCC to list the trees and bush on their  land - whether in the 2A and 2B zones or in other zones - as Notable Trees.  If the Environment Court finds that zones 2A and 2B do protect the bush despite the RMA Amendment, then council will probably not proceed to list the area of bush concerned.  However, if the Environment Court says the bush fringes are not protected, Council can proceed to protect them under the district scheme.   This may be the only way that will allow people who live around the reserves to provide collective protection to their environment against incursion by a strip, build and sell developer.

The information on how to do make a submission and list a tree can be found at the NSCC web site:

Clicking on the link at the bottom of that page takes you to a list of options you can follow up - which are fairly complex.
Here are the two key steps you could take on your own or with a group of neighbours to list notable trees:

Suggested entries on form 5 might be:

1. Number and name of proposed Change or Variation: Plan Change 36 Notable Trees in North Shore City

2. The specific provision/s of the Change or Variation that this submission relates to are as follows: * Adding further important groups of notable trees and ecological habitat to the Schedule of Notable Trees in the NORTH SHORE CITY DISTRICT PLAN 

4. My/our reasons for this are: * The ecological, environmental and scenic value of native bush to the city and its residents is considerable and existing stands of native bush - both trees and other native plants which support their regeneration - should be protected.

5. I seek the following decision from the North Shore City Council regarding the Change/Variation: (Give precise details fo the modifications to the proposed Change/Variation that would satisfy you) eg Protect all native trees and bush  on the property at >> give street address and suburb <<

Then add the details of the trees/bush using the Notable trees online nomination form

 Contact Keith Salmon if you would like more information.

Nick Smith and Jonathan Coleman's visit to Le Roys Bush 14 Nov 2009 - for member's information

Notes following Nick Smith and Jonathan Coleman's visit to Le Roys Bush 14 Nov 2009 - for member's information only - not for publication without approval from the Le Roys Bush Management Committee

About 40 Le Roys Bush and LSB supporters and volunteers turned out to meet Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment on Saturday 14 November to discuss the risks that the bush on private land around the reserves could be lost following the amendment to the RMA.

(1) Tracey-Lee Pettifer (secretary of Management Committee), Nick Smith and Jonathan Coleman talking with group of about 30 residents about how best to protect the beauty and integrity of Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal Bay.  Nick advised that the RMA amendment did not prevent Councils from protecting groups of trees.  Residents talked about the need to protect the total bush ecology. 

Kit Hustler, Nick Smith and Jonathan Coleman discussing the native fish life in Le Roys.  Nick Smith commented that he was impressed by the water quality in Le Roys Bush compared with some urban streams where road runoff lowers water quality. 

Here is a draft press release for review by people who attended the walk and open-air meeting after the walk.

Comments to Keith or another committee member please. 

DRAFT Press Release - LRB&LSBMC - meeting with Nick Smith and Jonathan Coleman 14Nov2009 v0.8c

More photos:

PB140014-NickSmithEtc14Nov09 (AM photo).JPG

PB140017-NickSmithEtc14Nov09 (AM photo)-50pc.jpg

Photos of stop with Kit Hustler and the Northcote College fish research group:

Photo credits: Ed, AM, Anita Peters, KS

Appendix - publicity prior to the 14 Nov walk

To local residents and volunteers:

We would welcome your presence at Little Shoal Bay Reserve to greet them and to support our case for protecting bush on private land surrounding the reserves from the risk that developers will move in and break up the private component of this environment which is so valued by the community. 

...  The purpose of this meeting is to allow Nick Smith to understand that Birkenhead and Northcote home owners and residents value the bush and to see for himself what the effect of the legislation will be on the private-public partnership that supports the relationship between publicly owned reserve and privately owned bush clad gullies.  This is not intended to be a public demonstration - but a listening and learning exchange to forge a new solution to replace the one that was lost in the RMA legislation and which will not be rescinded.

We only have an hour - so there will not be time for ceremony before the walk starts. 

Members of our committee and volunteers will take the party for a walk from LSB to Onewa Road - outlining the work we have been doing in the reserve and the issues we are trying to mitigate in a partnership between the community and local government. You are welcome to follow along too and talk to our volunteers about what we have achieved. Of particular interest is the work that Dr Kit Hustler, a teacher at Northcote College, has been doing to monitor native fish in the reserve.

Come and help plant a seed in the government's mind about how we should shape and protect our bush and the greater Auckland environment.

More details will follow shortly.

Why is this important and what could our government and local body do?

  • Birkenhead residents and home owners share a love their native bush reserves and bush walks
  • The government recently introduced an amendment to the RMA section 52 (now section 59) which means that the blanket tree protection which our council had introduced to protect our bush environment is now illegal
  • The Parliamentary Committee told at least two NSCC representatives that they did not wish to hear submissions on tree protection;  the NSCC was the only council which at that time objected to the proposed changes; the government claims that no substantive evidence was presented that section 56 would result in [adverse] effects.  
  • We lobbied various MPs to express our concern that ways and means are needed to prevent the beauty and integrity of Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal Bay reserves are not destroyed by developers who do not share Birkenhead's strong affection for its reserves (look what an outside developer is try to do to 83 Hinemoa Street)
  • Jonathan Coleman took a walk through Le Roys up the beautiful track to the waterfall and has invited Nick Smith to visit the reserve to understand what our concerns are
  • Nick Smith has said he will not rescind the RMA - so we are looking for alternative ways to protect the bush
  • This visit is to explain to the minister what the risks are to the spendid beauty of this reserve which runs from Highbuy to Little Shoal Bay
  • We want to ask Nick Smith and Jonathan Coleman to ensure that our shared heritage and environment are protected from greedy developers - both now and under the new Super City
  • There needs to be stronger more proactive action city-wide to form a partnership and provide a strong level of funding to control invasive weeds, to control erosion and contamination and protect valuable community assets from greed that ignores the shared wishes of the electors of Birkenhead and Northcote.

Quotes from some local residents about Le Roys Bush 

Thanks very much to all the people who responded to a survey in a recent email. 

All were supportive.  There were some excellent and helpful replies.  Thank you all.

Here is a selection from some of them:

Mike - a local home owner resident :

  • Absolutely essential that as much as possible of the privately owned bush be

    retained. Not only is it essential to the natural beauty of the landscape, but it

    helps to protect the quality of the waters of the Waitemata harbour. Lack of, or

    reduction of, natural buffers such as this would be extremely damaging to the

    harbour water quality. When heavy rain occurs, the first few minutes of run-off

    from an urban area are of a quality equivalent to raw sewage. This is greatly

    mitigated by retention of natural areas along the margins of streams – the wider

    the margins and the more natural (e.g. bush covered) they are, the more

    effective they are at mitigating adverse effects on water quality. […]

  • I think the owners of properties that include significant portions of the bush in the Le Roy (and other such) valley(s) on North Shore, will need to be approached and invited to protect those areas by means of Covenant. Effectiveness of this is dependent however, on the willingness of those owners, and on the commitment of North Shore City to adopting the implementing a policy for such Covenants. There is a cost involved, but not such as to be perceived as a problem by anyone […]

A Highbury business owner

  • Le Roys is a unique piece of bush that starts at the commercial area of Highbury and stetches to the sea, encapsulating a prime park with multi-use facilites and amenity to the general public. Le Roys is an invaluable asset to the community that children and adults alike can enjoy. Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal is an area that many people have fond in their hearts through youthfull memories.
  •  Great, not many places in Auckland with this kind if amenity in such close proximity to the CBD. I thnk maybe the closest to the CBD with a beach and reserve that stretches so far into suburbia, through industrial and commercial areas.
Jan - a local property owner and resident

  • Le Roys means a great deal to me. I go walking there with my walking group every week and love that feeling of being in native bush .  I also appreciate the number of native birds in my area which live in the bush. Pigeons, tui, wax  eyes etc.  Also the area is home to  a group of pukeko down by Little Shoal Bay.

Brendon - a local father
    • What Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal Bay Reserves means to you?

    It was one of the main reasons for buying a house in the area and the main reason for choosing to stay in the area after getting married and having a family. In the 12 years in residence, both have become a far more integral part of the district and the number  of local residents and non local visitors using and enjoying the enhanced open facilities plus natural beauty has increased many-fold. It is a joy to see families making the most of the reserve and taking children through a central oasis of bush.

    • How do you feel about bush in people's back yards around Le Roys and Little Shoal Bay Reserves?

    As long as they are aware of the social and moral obligation to preserve and maintain the natural beauty of the bush and realize what a privilege it is to be part of it, no problem.

    • Do you have concerns about the narrow parts of Le Roys? how would you address any concerns you have.

    Maintaining the borders by encouragement and legal obligation if necessary is the way to go.

    • How you would like to see it protected?
    Human nature what it is and the value of the land – by legislation reluctantly

Steve – local resident and bush restoration expert

·  What Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal Bay Reserves means to you?  It provides an impression of a large expanse of ‘wilderness’ in the middle of suburbia, and is a great place to go for a walk or a run.

·  How do you feel about bush in people's back yards around Le Roys and Little Shoal Bay Reserves?  There is more bush in the adjoining private backyards than in the reserve itself.  If landowners fell their native trees the intrinsic natural values of the reserve would be destroyed because they are borrowed from private landowners.  The same applies in Chatswood Reserve, Kauri Point Centennial Park, and many other narrow reserves.

·  Do you have concerns about the narrow parts of Le Roys? how would you address any concerns you have.  Yes, the narrowest parts are most at risk of losing their apparent ‘wilderness’ values.  For a very long time private landowners have kept their native bush cover in place.  I believe to address this situation the zoning of the adjoining land should prevent felling of native bush unless a resource consent is issued.