Queens Wharf Saga Brought to a Satisfactory Conclusion
The decision by the Council on 6 July to confirm my provisional agreement with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to protect Shed 10 and relocate Shed 11 brought on a major crisis between the government and the ARC and a veritable media storm. This was all totally avoidable. The decision was portrayed as a sudden about-turn by myself and the ARC, though I had briefed the Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully as early as mid-May on this sensible compromise solution. The government was also informed from the outset (as was the media) that the ARC decision in April to support the temporary ‘Cloud’ option was conditional on formal consultation with NZHPT. After this all became public after our meeting on 6 July, a large media debate raged over whether the sheds should be kept or dismantled for ‘party central’. The relocation of ‘party central’ was floated and gathered some public support. I countered that by saying a ‘party–not-so-central’ would be inferior to Queens Wharf.
In my absence in China I was very pleased that ARC members stuck to their guns and remained unified in the face of this crisis. In the end, I believe it was the Prime Minister who was instrumental in persuading Minister McCully to accept the ‘Cloud’ plus Shed 10 compromise. I wish to thank Councillor Walbran for acting as chairman in the absence of both myself and deputy chair Michael Barnett during those critical 13 days.
We now have a solution which with the full support of the NZ Historic Places Trust could have and should have been concluded as early as late May which would have avoided all the un-necessary crisis.
However, thankfully in the end good sense prevailed. Shed 11 on the western side of the wharf will be dismantled and either immediately relocated or stored for later use, and the temporary ‘cloud’ structure will be erected in its place (beginning next March) in time for the Rugby World Cup.
Meanwhile work on the scope of Shed 10’s renovation and its link with the ‘Cloud’ structure is underway and will continue over the coming months. Long term decisions around a new cruise ship terminal will be left to the Auckland Council and the future Waterfront Development Agency.
I am pleased we now have a decision and we can get on with developing Queens Wharf as premier harbour-side open space where the people of Auckland can once again get close to their harbour – and the ships. I am very proud to be associated with such an intelligent and unified council of elected members. I believe the City Councils, indeed parliament could learn a lot from the Auckland Regional Council. (To view John Roughan’s NZ Herald commentary on the Queens Wharf saga and the role of Mike Lee go to – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10660758)