Prepared by Pauline Stewart from documents supplied by John Drummond.
New Chum/Wainuiototo is a very special beach on the East Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. You cannot underestimate its outstanding natural character, significant biodiversity values, magnificent landscapes and seascapes, significant values for Maori and important cultural and archaeological values. Most of these values are dependent on there being no houses close to or overlooking the beach.”
“New Chum/Wainuiototo is recognized as one of the top 10 wilderness beaches in the world.
Houses that are visible and in earshot of the beach and bay would destroy these values.
It is the last of the wilderness beaches that is accessible to the public.
Everything is at stake!” John Drummond
John Drummond, as Chairperson for the Preserve New Chum for Everyone (PNC4E) has a huge job. It seems like David against Goliath. “We have been going through the TCDC Proposed District Plan process since 2013. We opposed the Structure Plan promoted by Northern Land Property Ltd at the local hearing. At the later Environment Court hearing we supported the Structure Plan as a method of determining what could and couldn’t happen at New Chum / Wainuiototo but opposed the 11 house sites in the Wainuiototo catchment. This appeal to the High Court was of the Interim Decision of the Environment Court to insert a Structure Plan into the TCDC District Plan to allow 25 house sites at New Chum / Wainuiototo and Whangapoua. Our focus is still on the 11 house sites in the Wainuiototo catchment.
The PNC4E appeal to the High Court was in Auckland in the last week of June, just last month.
John reiterated, “There’s a lot at stake. New Chum/Wainuiototo is a world class wilderness beach -pristine and free from development. Although the headland at the north end of the beach was purchased by New Zealand Coastal Trust (NZCT – a community group) to protect it from development in 2022, the battle to protect the land behind the middle of the beach continues.
Since 2013, PNC4E has participated at every stage of the process, their first submission, appearances at the local hearings, consideration of the decision, appeals, six years of drawn-out mediations, appearances at two separate Environment Court hearings, consideration of the decisions, and in January of this year an appeal and cross-appeal to the High Court that opposes the recent Interim Decision.
“We have had some successes with the earlier decisions of the Environment Court. We have had to engage experts in Planning, Landscape, Ecology, Matāuranga Māori, and Law to speak for us at the two Environment Court hearings as well as during the mediations.
The High Court appeal was heard over 3 days in Auckland at the end of June. PNC4E has allies with Whangapoua Community Association (WCA) and NZ Coastal Trust (NZCT). “We work closely with both those groups to support one another, share knowledge and resources,” says John.
“Our opponents are Northern Land Properties Ltd (NLPL) who own part of the land (Whangapoua catchment) and R & D Mears (RDM) who have a caveat for house sites on the other part of the land owned by George Kerr (New Chum/Wainuiototo catchment). TCDC is also opposing our cross-appeal.”
Essentially PNC4E, WCA and NZCT spoke for the appeal and NLPL, TCDC & RDM opposed the appeal.
“Our legal team of Rob Enright, Mike Savage and Sally Gepp took different points and set out the reasons why the Environment Court erred in its Interim Decision.
Points for the Argument against development:
1. Jurisdiction - Did the court wrongly conclude that it lacked jurisdiction to alter the Planning Maps to identify the location and extent of outstanding and high natural character and outstanding natural features and landscapes?
2. Natural Justice – Did the court breach natural justice by failing to invite the parties to make submissions on jurisdiction?
3. NZ Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS) – Did the court fail to give effect to the NZCPS?
4. House Sites 15, 16, 17 & 21 (Amended to only House Site 21) -Did the court wrongly conclude that HS21 could be allowed without meeting the non-visibility threshold?
5. Yield – Did the court err in its consideration of hypothetical development and subdivision entitlements when this required protection of land no longer owned by the proponents of the structure plan and now owned by NZCT.
6. Waikato Regional Policy Statement (WRPS) – Did the court fail to apply important provisions of the WRPS?
“Our team did a great job of setting the scene and providing a strong case backed up with sound reasoning and case law. NLPL carried on followed by TCDC and RDM all trying to undermine our case and presenting their own reasoning why the appeal should be declined. Our Right of Reply re-iterated the reasons for the appeal, answered questions, and finished on a very good note.
High Court appeals are only on points of law and do not relitigate the environmental effects of the proposal,” says John.
John is forthright in saying that the members and supporters PNC4E have dug deep into their pockets and provided much needed funds at times when it has been needed. “Our experts have given us pro-bono work (free to us) as well as large discounts for their rates. In the lead up to the hearing and shortly after we asked our supporters to donate funds so we could pay our lawyer. We had a very quick response and raised the money needed. We also had a grant from the ELA fund to help pay for this work. It helped. We thank all our donors for their support. We gave as good as we got and wait for the determination,” says John. “If we are not in, then we are out.”
The Judges’ Decision is reserved. Outcome? Difficult to predict…..
John believes the decision should come by the end of 2023. Once the decision is received, it’s back to the Environment Court to see if and how the High Court decision affects the Environment Court Interim Decision.
The appellants hope that there will be sufficient directions within the High Court decision to make significant changes to the Structure Plan and a good outcome for New Chum / Wainuiototo that protects the beach and the bay for us and future generations.
PNC4E has a givealittle page, (https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/save-new-chumbeach or www.preservenewchum.org.nz) for those who wish to help keep houses away from New Chum / Wainuiototo.”
“We are determined that this very beautiful and important place will never be subdivided.” John Drummond.
Caption. New Chum Beach.