A low-key cross-section of iwi and hapu members, surfers, boaties and other locals from the Whangamata community flew flags and banners as they continued their 15-year opposition to the proposed marina at the site.
The occupation, by Ngati Kupenga Hako and the Surfbreak Protection Society, is an 11th hour protest against the $20 million project.
Protester spokesperson Pauline Clarkin of Te Kupenga o Ngāti Hako said those occupying the site want to raise public awareness of the "inadequacies of the marina proposal".
The discovery of a small native lizard, the moko skink, and unhappiness about what they say are changes to the resource consent, prompted the protest.
Clarkin said the protesters were concerned at what she said was "too much work going on behind the closed doors of both Environment Waikato and Thames Coromandel District Council".
Clarkin explains, “In the last 5 months there have been several changes to the marina proposal. There has been a significant reduction of the rock lining of the marina channel; the removal of a 40metre breakwater from the marina design and consent to remove indigenous vegetation from the coastal marine area something that was never sought or consented to in the original decision.”
Surfbreak has been on site of the proposed Whangamata Marina since Tuesday July 1(construction start day) to support the Hauraki Iwi in their protest.
Surfbreak writes at its website that the main thrust of the Hauraki Iwi negotiations is that since the original decision on the marina much has happened and many changes have been asked for by the Marina Society. These changes are overseen by Department of Conservation, Thames Coromandel District Council and Waikato Regional Council. The Hauraki Iwi want all the changes put in to one big pot and not looked at ad hoc. They are seeking an inquiry that will put all issues together. The list of changes is long, but there are four issues that directly affect Surfbreak Protection:
1. The lease or sale of coastal land by TCDC to the Marina Society. Surfbreak Protection has been in this process since the beginning and it is still unfinished business.
2. The Golf course consent. This consent involves the marina society dumping 27,000 cu m of marine sediment on to the Whangamata golf course, a fresh water floodplain. Surfbreak Protection argues the principle "what comes out of the marine environment stays in the marine environment". Thus the dumping consent should have been publicly notified.
3. The Marina Society have now unlined the walls of the channel (initially they were to be lined with textile and rock). Surfbreak requested drawings of the unlined channel, wanting to know the length, the angle of the batter and the stability of the sandflats in the area and found no such drawings exist. Yet the councils have allowed this to go through without public notification of a variation to consent. The unlining of the channel walls has the potential for a huge increase in maintenance dredging. The continuous removal of marine sediment to land could affect the quality of the Bar. Therefore public notification should take place to allow an assessment of effects.
4. WRC must do a Boat Traffic Management Plan to explain the use of the shared access channel to the Bar and assess maritime safety issues around the skilane and boatramp.
Finally, the group says the consent issuing authorities and the two Crown leasing agents should have given public notice that the proposed Whangamata marina was not going to start on the 1st of July 2008, because consents and leasing arrangements were not in place. Instead they allowed the Marina Society to say that they were beginning works on the 1st of July. Surfbreak Protection knew that consents were not in place and that leases had not been signed. Surfbreak Protection therefore assumed that the Marina Society was going to start work before they got required permission.
Surfbreak says it has found out that the Marina Society have not done a prospectus that would allow them to fund this most controversial of projects. The two councils, Thames Coromandel District Council and Waikato Regional Council have spent over 12 million dollars on this proposed marina. Currently the two councils and the Department of Conservation are spending about $100,000 per week to facilitate such a marina. And yet nobody has checked if they have the funds.
The followoing is from the Waikato Times (New Zealand).
Protesters vow to continue sit-in
As the Whangamata marina sit-in hits its 12th day, protesters are still demanding the Government veto the project.
Anti-Whangamata marina protesters are continuing their sit-in at the proposed site.
Now into its 12th day, the sit-in by Hauraki iwi and the Surfbreak Protection Society has drawn national attention.
Pauline Clarkin, from Te Kupenga o Ngati Hako, told the Waikato Times the group did not plan to abandon their posts until they had an assurance from Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick that the proposed 205-berth marina would not go ahead.
"We are waiting for a response from the minister.
"Until we get that we will stay. Hopefully it will not be for too long."
Whangamata marina supporters have all the necessary permits to start building the long-awaiting marina and have had a number of legal victories through the courts allowing them to proceed.
But Ms Clarkin said marina protesters were opposed to the environmental and cultural effects they say would be caused by the planned dredging of the wetlands and the on-site construction.
Concern for local wildlife, such as the recently discovered moko skink, and the effect on the Whangamata surf break, have also been factors behind the protest.
"We want clarity, we want the Environment Minister Trevor Mallard to use his powers to investigate the process the Marina Society has been through, and we want the Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick to declare her position (on the lease of Doc-owned land which Thames Coromandel District Council has to approve)," Ms Clarkin said.
The Whangamata Marina Society yesterday announced it had pushed the start date for work back from this month until September 1, but a spokesperson said this was not a sign of problems.
"Yes, the start of construction of the marina has been delayed by one month, no, it is not the result of cashflow problems ...
"The reason for the delay is that the wording is checked by lawyers .. to ensure that the investment offer is as robust as it can possibly be."
In a press release, the society said it had all the required consents and delays were simply due to choosing the best way to proceed.
"It has now been agreed between the parties that in order to comply with the resource consent, it will be necessary for the society to complete the onshore development generally in accordance with the consent plan endorsed by the Environment Court.
"This requires an area of approximately 1.3 hectares."
The society is required to meet a number of conditions before construction can start, including a requirement that a cash bond be lodged with TCDC and Waikato Regional Council to remove any of the development works if for any reason the marina development is not completed, and proof it has the funds to complete the project.
The works will be paid for by the sale of the berths.
When the Waikato Times visited the internet site TradeMe, one berth was listed at a price of $260,000 and only two other listings had been posted elsewhere online.
Ms Clarkin said the society was simply "stalling".
"I think the Marina Society hasn't got the cash, so they are just blaming us for holding them up," she said