Over 3,000 square metres of coveted land adjoining Long Bay Regional Park has been purchased by Auckland Council, completing the city’s 18-hectare Heritage Protection Area.
Councillor Alf Filipaina, Chair of the Auckland Council’s Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee, says this last piece of the puzzle has been on the council’s radar for some time.
“We identified the piece of land back in 2013 as a high priority for acquisition, as it sits right in the middle of the existing Heritage Protection Area,” he said.
“For an investment of $3.6 million, this addition to the park not only protects the integrity of cultural heritage values across the site, but also secures it as public and open space for Aucklanders.”
Long Bay Regional Park and the adjoining Heritage Protection Area contain evidence of Māori occupation by Ngāti Kahu and Ngāti Poataniwha prior to Europeans arriving in the 1820s, as well as historic European farming practices.
Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff said it was important to protect public open space in our fast-growing region so it could be enjoyed by future generations.
“When Long Bay was purchased for parkland in the 1960s, it was a stretch of beach surrounded by farmland,” Mayor Goff said.
“Now it is one of our most highly visited regional parks, with more than one million visits a year to the beach and park.
“With this latest purchase we have ensured that amid the new development in this popular area, Aucklanders and visitors can continue to access the beach and Okura, as well as enjoy the nearby open space.”
Parks portfolio holder, Councillor Christine Fletcher agreed the addition to Long Bay Regional Park was consistent with the vision of providing large scale open spaces for Aucklanders, and increased potential for community uses.
“The existing property on the piece of land provides an opportunity for an affordable stay within Long Bay Regional Park, which hasn’t been available before,” she said.
Albany Ward Councillor, John Watson says the addition to the parkland was great for the community.
“It allows us to increase public amenities, recreation opportunities and tackle more environmental issues,” he said.
“With the nearby housing growth and development, we’re expecting visitor numbers to keep increasing.
“Long Bay Regional Park boasts one of the Auckland’s best urban beaches. It’s very popular with people enjoying swimming, sunbathing and barbecuing on the extensive grassed picnic areas.”
Hibiscus and Bays Local Board Chair, Gary Brown says his board supports the addition to the park, lobbied for by the Long Bay Okura Great Park Society.
Bruce Usher is the current Convenor of the Long Bay Okura Great Park Society, which has been campaigning for the creation of a 1000-acre Great Park at Long Bay for 25 years.
“The Society applauds the council’s vision in securing the farm cottages,” said Mr Usher.
“In particular, the Society was concerned that any private redevelopment of the cottages could have had negative implications on the heritage values of the Awaruku headland and have had a detrimental visual impact on visitors’ enjoyment of the park.
“This important purchase will help preserve and enhance the rich heritage and beauty of the park.”
Long Bay Regional Park was one of Auckland’s first regional parks, with the bulk of the park purchased in 1965 and developed during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The park land has subsequently been added to.