Appeal of Rural plan changes

The Landowners Coalition has filed an appeal with the Environment Court.


The Whangarei District Council is progressing ten plan changes to the District Plan, which will affect every landowner outside of the urban areas. The plan changes divide the rural (countryside) area into seven “Environments” with “Resource area” overlays, each with their own rules that dictate the full gambit of activity in the rural area: the size, location, and colour of buildings; subdivision lot sizes, vegetation removal, earthworks, forestry, everything.

A panel of three independent commissioners heard submissions to the plan changes and recently released their report. As is typical, they did not make any changes of great substance. In general, they accepted the recommendations of council staff and tinkered with wording.

What remains is a significant erosion of private property rights by transferring discretion about what one does on one’s own property from the property owner to council staff, who presume to represent the values of the community at large. This will significantly increase costs and uncertainty to those who wish to do something on their land.

Besides the underlying assumption that landowners can’t be trusted, the plan changes attempt to solve “problems” that are more imaginary than real. This is contrary to the great things landowners have been doing, and continue to do, to improve the environment. Literally millions of native trees have been planted in our region in recent years by private landowners and the positive effects are plain to see. Instead of recognising those good deeds, planners, aided by indifferent and pro-regulation councillors, want to have greater say about what you can and (more importantly) can’t do on your own private property.

However, we now have a situation where the three ‘wise’ men presiding over the future rules of our district have agreed with Council planners that not only do they know what the community wants, but that what the community thinks a landowner should do on their property is more important than what landowners think.

The appeal 

Our Appeal to the Environment Court is wide-ranging.

There is now a window of opportunity (some 15 working days) for submitters to join our appeal in support of any part of that appeal. That would give a submitter the opportunity to participate in mediation, without cost.

Contact us (Frank 021 718 478 or 09 4343 836) if you would like guidance on joining our action as a S274 party.

Mediation is likely to be a lengthy process, but significant changes – for better or worse – will be made during mediation.

POST NOTE: The Landowners Coalition took part in mediation that lasted some 3 weeks. As a result of our engagement council planning staff made changes to the District Plan that brought some common sense to certain issues. However, we believe the plan change is largely anti-landowner and largely represents the will of council staff to transfer property rights to them. We remain of the view that the WDC’s planning rules are largely self-serving to the detriment of private property owners.

We were horrified at the degree of “horse-trading” that went on between council staff and some parties to mediation that was done on the pretence of public interest when in reality was nothing more than self-interest.     

High Court action to defend claims on foreshore and seabed

High Court action to defend claims on foreshore and seabed

The Landowners Coalition has filed notices with the High Court registering its interest in all 202 claims made to the High Court by iwi and hapu for customary tiles of the foreshore and seabed.

The Coalition is taking this action on behalf of landowners in New Zealand who would like to participate in the cases, and is acting as a vehicle through which individuals and groups can have their say in Court.

Contact us (Frank, 021 718 478 or 09 4343 836) if you would like to have a say on any one or more of the claims now before the court.

Details of the claims may be found at

WDC Rural plan changes now open to appeal

On the 13th of December 2017, the Whangarei District Council accept the Hearing Panel’s recommendation with respect to Plan Changes 85 A-D, 86 A-B, 87, 102, 114. That acceptance was advertised on 17 January 2018 which triggers the 30 working day period for those who submitted on the proposals to lodge an appeal to the Environment Court, the closing date being, 5pm 1 March 2018.

The Landowners Coalition Inc will be appealing the is able to provide assistance to those who would like to lodge appeals, or join the Landowners action.

Foreshore & seabed claims in Whangarei District

Here is a list of claims filed in the High Court for ownership of the foreshore & seabed in the Whangarei District. Click CIV number for the claim document filed. Details of these 14 claims have been provided by the Whangarei District Council. They do not include claims made directly to the Minister of Treaty Settlements which will be considered by the Minister under a different process.

NOTE: A High Court judge has declared that the final date for registering an interest in the claims, support or opposition, is 26 February 2018.

Claim –  CIV-2017-485-398

Claimant: Loiusa Te Matekino Collier, Ngati Kawau and Te Waiariki Korora.

Area claimed: Area adjoining the area belonging to Te Whare Tapu o Ngapuhi from Bombay Hills extending out to either coast and extending upwards to Te Rerenga Wairau/Cape Reinga.

Continue reading

Mediation matters

Last week the Landowners Coalition participated in a mediation involving a District Plan Change initiated by the Whangarei District Council regarding Papakainga developments. While the mediation remains confidential until ratified by the Environment Court, there are some general comments about mediations that are worth sharing. But first, let’s recap on where mediation fits into the plan change process. Continue reading

No trust in landowners

Last week commissioners began hearing submissions on what is the most significant change in Whangarei District Council planning rules in decades. Alarmingly, few people actually realise the new rules are in the pipeline. Hardly a word has been mentioned in the media, and the Council itself did not hold any public meetings to inform the public of the changes.

Ten plan changes are proposed – affecting every landowner outside of the built up urban environment. The plan changes divide the rural (countryside) area into seven “Environments” with “Resource area” overlays, each with their own rules. (Plan changes PC85, 85A, 85B, 85C, 85D, 86A, 86B. 87, 102, and 114.) Continue reading

Landowners coalition lodges appeal to Papakainga plan change

The Landowners Coalition has lodged an appeal to Plan Change 94B Papakainga with the Environment Court.

In general terms, our concerns relate to the inclusion of industrial and commercial activities as a permitted activity, whether directly related to the communal activity or not, the intensity of permitted residential development, and the protection of significant landscapes. We believe a more appropriate approach is to treat a Papakāinga Development Plan as a non-complying activity requiring notification (full or limited).

It is our view that this:

a. Achieves PKA.1.3 Objectives 1 through to 5 while at the same time respecting the objectives of affected landowners, present and future.

b. Provides adequate control of sensitive landscapes.

c. Will provide for the appropriate development of papakāinga without unnecessary regulation and consequently reduce ongoing compliance costs for the papakāinga.
In essence, we believe a papakāinga development should comply with the underlying Environment provisions and the underlying Environment subdivision provisions of the District Plan.

Update on plan changes PC85 A-D, PC86A and B, PC87, PC102, PC114

Hearing for the plan changes will be taking place from 3 July 2017 through until 7 July 2017.

Submitters who said they would like to speak to their submission will be contacted by the WDC to allocate a time.

The plan changes are being heard together by one Hearing Panel made up of two independent commissioners and a Councillor. We will be interested to see who the independent commissioners are and how independent they really are.

We understand a new councillor with no experience in planning matters and an obvious greenie bias is being considered for the commissioner role. We are watching that appointment with interest and will consider our objection options should that appointment go ahead.

Copies of the summary of submissions and other relevant information including the Plan Changes are available on our website

Spelling it out

Plan Change 94B Papakāinga is progressing through the planning process. Last Monday, those who had made written submissions had the opportunity to voice their opposition or support to the hearings panel. I presented a submission on behalf of a community group advocating landowner rights.

That panel consisted of three commissioners; Greg Hill from Auckland, Russell De Luka from the Bay of Plenty, and Willow-Jean Prime who is well known in the Far North as a district councillor and the Labour candidate in the 2015 Northland by-election. She is also known as a strong advocate for Maori. A staff recommendation that Ms Prime be appointed because of her “tikanga Maori expertise” (tikanga is generally taken to mean “the Maori way of doing things”) was accepted by Council’s Planning Committee in September. Continue reading

Submission to commissioners

On 21 November Bob Syron and Frank Newman presented the following submission to the hearings panel.

Our submission will state out our 9 points of general submission, then make 3 points regarding process, and lastly suggest a way forward.

1) That environmental effects should not be defined by race. Effects are effects regardless of the race of the landowner that causes them. If the environment had a persona, it probably would not care who caused it harm – it would simply care that harm was caused.

2) That the underlying Environment provisions shall apply to papakāinga developments.

a. We believe allowing a departure from the underlying Environment provisions would conceivably permit intensive housing and commercial and industrial activities that are unacceptable from an environmental effects perspective. Continue reading