Ozymandias is alive and well and living in New Zealand

Every New Zealander has places around the country that make them feel good about our corner of the world.   They are places we return to again and again with our reaction going to the heart of what makes us who we are.

One of those places for our family is Tawharanui to the north of Auckland where we have a camping holiday before Xmas each year. 

It is a farm on a peninsula of land which was purchased in the 1970’s by the Auckland Regional Council.   It is progressively being developed into a magnificent public park for camping, swimming, surfing, snorkelling, bushwalking etc

Much of the original farm is being returned to native bush while wetlands, sand dunes and other natural features are being restored to their natural glory.   A massive replanting programme has taken place over the past 30 years with scores of volunteers helping out on weekends.  

More recently a partnership has been developed with local volunteers who have formed an incorporated society to develop Tawharanui as an “open sanctuary” with its first major project being the establishment of a predator-proof fence across the neck of the peninsula.  

Weasels, stoats and possums have been eradicated and already the signs of increasing bird life are evident.   The endangered dotterel and oyster catcher – once scarce on the beaches are now more abundant.   Native geckos have been introduced to the bush and there are plans to return a host of native birds to the area including kiwis.

Part of the coastline has been established as a marine reserve with snapper 7 times more prevalent in the reserve than elsewhere.

Without wanting to sound like a travelogue this is a magical part of our country – a place which annually soothes thousands of fractured city souls.   It is one of the jewels in New Zealand’s coastal crown.

And so it was with a mixture of shock and disbelief that we were confronted on our last visit with a huge mansion perched on a private block of land at the end of the main beach.   It is a double storied monstrosity – all terracotta tiles and yellow stone which dominates the coastal view.   It draws the eye with Ozymandias-style arrogance.  

In all its gaudy glory it gives a two fingered salute – via two large chimney stacks which arise from the second story – to the hard work that has been done to create a place of immense value to New Zealanders of the present and future generations.

Adding insult to injury is that while the view for the many thousands of visitors to the park each year has been seriously downgraded, the owner will have a magnificent coastal view forever – knowing it will never be destroyed by private developments such as the one he has undertaken himself.

It has been built by an Austrian national who spends just 4 weeks a year here.  

Dominated as they are by local business interests most district councils – the Rodney District Council in this case – see economic growth as their first priority.   They use talk of “progress” and “economic development” to regularly dismiss widespread public concern and most would happily rubber-stamp virtually any development.  

Our government is no better.   Last year parliament passed the Overseas Investment Bill.    It was presented to the public and media as a tightening up of the law – specifically in the controversial areas of coastal and high country land – on land sales to foreigners.    However it has made most such purchases a lot easier by removing the need for approval of purchases of land by foreigners if it involves less than five hectares in area and/or less than $10million in value.  

The parliamentary select committee reviewing the bill dismissed the large majority of submissions calling for tighter control of land sales to foreign nationals by citing New Zealand’s obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the free-trade agreement with Singapore.

This is one of the uglier sides of so-called free-trade agreements.   In essence they take the power to control our country from our elected representatives and transfer it to wealthy foreign interests.   Most New Zealanders have no idea about the GATS agreement.   It has never been the subject of public debate and yet it is increasingly restricting our right to regulate in our national interest.

The edifice at Tawharanui and the values it represents are alien to most New Zealanders.   Protection of our country, our culture and coastline must move to centre stage ahead of the private interests of wealthy foreigners.

Every New Zealander has places around the country that make them feel good about our corner of the world.   They are places we return to again and again with our reaction going to the heart of what makes us who we are.

One of those places for our family is Tawharanui to the north of Auckland where we have a camping holiday before Xmas each year. 

It is a farm on a peninsula of land which was purchased in the 1970’s by the Auckland Regional Council.   It is progressively being developed into a magnificent public park for camping, swimming, surfing, snorkelling, bushwalking etc

Much of the original farm is being returned to native bush while wetlands, sand dunes and other natural features are being restored to their natural glory.   A massive replanting programme has taken place over the past 30 years with scores of volunteers helping out on weekends.  

More recently a partnership has been developed with local volunteers who have formed an incorporated society to develop Tawharanui as an “open sanctuary” with its first major project being the establishment of a predator-proof fence across the neck of the peninsula.  

Weasels, stoats and possums have been eradicated and already the signs of increasing bird life are evident.   The endangered dotterel and oyster catcher – once scarce on the beaches are now more abundant.   Native geckos have been introduced to the bush and there are plans to return a host of native birds to the area including kiwis.

Part of the coastline has been established as a marine reserve with snapper 7 times more prevalent in the reserve than elsewhere.

Without wanting to sound like a travelogue this is a magical part of our country – a place which annually soothes thousands of fractured city souls.   It is one of the jewels in New Zealand’s coastal crown.

And so it was with a mixture of shock and disbelief that we were confronted on our last visit with a huge mansion perched on a private block of land at the end of the main beach.   It is a double storied monstrosity – all terracotta tiles and yellow stone which dominates the coastal view.   It draws the eye with Ozymandias-style arrogance.  

In all its gaudy glory it gives a two fingered salute – via two large chimney stacks which arise from the second story – to the hard work that has been done to create a place of immense value to New Zealanders of the present and future generations.

Adding insult to injury is that while the view for the many thousands of visitors to the park each year has been seriously downgraded, the owner will have a magnificent coastal view forever – knowing it will never be destroyed by private developments such as the one he has undertaken himself.

It has been built by an Austrian national who spends just 4 weeks a year here.  

Dominated as they are by local business interests most district councils – the Rodney District Council in this case – see economic growth as their first priority.   They use talk of “progress” and “economic development” to regularly dismiss widespread public concern and most would happily rubber-stamp virtually any development.  

Our government is no better.   Last year parliament passed the Overseas Investment Bill.    It was presented to the public and media as a tightening up of the law – specifically in the controversial areas of coastal and high country land – on land sales to foreigners.    However it has made most such purchases a lot easier by removing the need for approval of purchases of land by foreigners if it involves less than five hectares in area and/or less than $10million in value.  

The parliamentary select committee reviewing the bill dismissed the large majority of submissions calling for tighter control of land sales to foreign nationals by citing New Zealand’s obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the free-trade agreement with Singapore.

This is one of the uglier sides of so-called free-trade agreements.   In essence they take the power to control our country from our elected representatives and transfer it to wealthy foreign interests.   Most New Zealanders have no idea about the GATS agreement.   It has never been the subject of public debate and yet it is increasingly restricting our right to regulate in our national interest.

The edifice at Tawharanui and the values it represents are alien to most New Zealanders.   Protection of our country, our culture and coastline must move to centre stage ahead of the private interests of wealthy foreigners.

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