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Residents invest to extend Hobsonville Point ferry service

Published: 4 April 2019

Few places in Auckland are changing as fast as Hobsonville Point.

What used to be a sleepy area on the northern tip of the Waitematā Harbour has become a booming medium-density suburb in just a few years.

Thousands of homes have been, or are being, built. About 11,000 people are expected to live there by 2024 and new waterfront restaurants, bars, walkways and playgrounds are springing up.

One of the things Hobsonville Point trumpets in its marketing is that though it’s physically far from the city centre, it’s only 35 minutes away by ferry from Catalina Bay. Commuters in the area have long been able to head into and back from town easily.

Until recently, though, ferry services weren’t available to them at weekends. It took almost unprecedented action by the area’s residents to change that.

Lindsey Dawson is a committee member of the Hobsonville Point Residents Society. Its structure is unusual in Auckland. Every new resident in Hobsonville joins up and pays $200 a year to maintain and improve the area.

“We all work together to keep [Hobsonville Point] in good nick and keep it being a nice place to live,” Dawson says.

“Because it’s designed to be medium density, it’s a much closer-knit community than most other places in Auckland and it was really important that it was set up with ways and means for people to work together.”

The society’s suburb-wide buy-in gives it extra resourcing and decision-making, both of which came in handy when it turned its attention last year toward Hobsonville’s lack of weekend ferries.

Dawson says it didn’t make sense for a growth area that was home to an increasing number of bars and restaurants to be inaccessible by public transport at the times most Aucklanders were out enjoying themselves.

She and her fellow committee members worked out an agreement with Auckland Transport: if its members could stump up $50,000, the organisation would combine that with a contribution from Hobsonville’s development company, HLC, and arrange a weekend ferry trial for Hobsonville.

The decision on whether to help fund the trial was put to a vote at the residents society’s AGM, which attracted 300 people last October. The decision to go ahead with the ferry-trial funding was carried by an overwhelming majority.

Dawson says the move shows the advantages of a community being able to pool its resources to effect meaningful change.

“It’s very unusual for a place with one central body to be able to say, ‘Let’s do this’. It’s also a very democratic business. The people go along and vote and something happens, and we all like it,” she says.

Ferries now depart from Catalina Bay in Hobsonville Point seven times a day at weekends. And each one of the sailings is evidence of the difference you can make when you get a whole community to get behind – and invest in – a single cause.

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