Saunders Reserve reserve status to be changed

Publish Date : 31 Oct 2018
whau river

The Whau Local Board hearings panel on 31 October agreed to revoke the reserve status over a part of Saunders Reserve, addressing a historical issue with the West End Rowing club’s operation on the land.

It also agreed to support the classification of a portion of the reserve as a local purpose (esplanade) reserve; this will retain the protection over public access and ownership and facilitate the ecological protection of the area, protecting against any future development.

Auckland Council proposed the revocation of the reserve status of the section of the land that comprised the West End Rowing Club and car park; this was in part due to the reserve status not allowing the club to operate, as a venue for hire as a fundraising activity, to groups who were not members.

The waterfront edge and open space part of the reserve around the club will retain its reserve status. The clubrooms, driveway and car parking areas will be held under the Local Government Act 2002.


Hearings Panel Chair Tracy Mulholland says that it was important to hear from all parties on the issue.

“Formal classification of the esplanade reserve will help enhance an ecology that has been improving through significant volunteer activity through organisations such as the Whau River Catchment Trust.

“At the same time, the clubs’ fund-raising activities are legitimised and will be able to operate under a lease that is fit for purpose.

“I want to thank all submitters who took the time to present their points of view to the panel, as it is very important that we heard from all sides of this issue.

“The panel took all feedback on board, and through a lengthy deliberation process came to this decision,” she says.

“At the same time, special conditions will be contained in any approved lease to the club outlining the access rights, and we will support the re-establishment of a community group who have an interest in the reserve.”

Benefit to the community

Whau Local Board Deputy Chair Susan Zhu says, “We considered and debated all the issues raised during today's hearing process. At the end of the day, the club has been operating the entire time it has been on site, allowing around 300 members access to a facility that provides a significant benefit to the community.

“Public pedestrian access to and from the Kurt Brehmer walkway and the Whau River will not be affected and from views shared today we will be seeing how we can raise awareness of the reserve and walkway,” she says.

Saunders Reserve was created in 1986, with the rowing club on site from 2004.

The next step in this process is for council staff to send the recommendation for revocation to the department of conservation for approval.

This is one of the first times this kind of decision was made by a local board hearing panel. It would have previously been handled by the governing body but as a result of a wider governance framework review, has been delegated to the local boards, whose connection and insights to their communities is stronger.

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