Waiheke as a UNESCO Reserve

By Colin Beardon
This is a version of the submission Colin will be making to the Select Committee. If you agree with him you can either write your own submission along the same lines, or Comment here to let Colin add you to his count of supporters.

The submission essentially proposes that the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands be removed from the Bill, and that a separate structure be set up for the Gulf and its Islands.

If you wish to be counted as a supporter of this submission, add a comment with your name and contact email or email Colin directly. You will not be named in the submission but the total number of supporters will be mentioned. Obviously, the larger the number, the more attention we attract.

Supporting this submission does not prevent you from supporting any other submission, or writing your own submission.




Submission To The Parliamentary Select Committee:
Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill

Name or Organisation: Colin Beardon

Daytime telephone number:
Email Address:

I would like to speak to the committee in person

Specific to clause 5 Meaning of Auckland


We propose that the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands be excluded from the Bill and that separate governance arrangements be made for them.


The Royal Commission started from the belief that Auckland is not a world class city, that it should be one, and it therefore needs ‘fixing’. On the other hand, the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands are already world class. They do not need fixing, but require a specific vision to realise their full potential.

The Hauraki Gulf is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a special ecology and many sites of historical significance. It supports a wide range of recreational pursuits and sporting events. The Gulf Islands’ communities are independent-minded, creative, caring and supportive. They have a history of developing innovative and sustainable solutions.

The Royal Commission believed that the Gulf Islands are not economically viable, and therefore need to be part of Auckland City. We reject that notion and believe that by developing our unique economy, more controlled and targetted spending and raising appropriate revenue from visitors we can become a sustainable economy.

The community of the Gulf Islands realise that our greatest assets are our natural environment and our way of life. This is why people visit us and why people come to live here. These are under great threat from creeping urbanisation.

If we are allowed to implement a vision based on the ‘three sustainables’ we can obtain significant international recognition. In particular, within two years the Gulf can become the first UNESCO ‘Biosphere Reserve’ in New Zealand. As such it would join 533 other such reserves in 107 countries around the world. This would bring many benefits to the Gulf, the Auckland region and the country as a whole.

A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve includes environmentally protected areas alongside zones for sustainable economic development. It aims to develop a ‘quality’ economy based on local community action, entrepreneurship and sound science. Though there are none in New Zealand, there are currently 533 in 107 countries around the world, including sixteen in Australia. A ‘Hauraki Gulf Reserve’ would enable us to share and learn within a global network of similar environments, leading to an increase in low-impact scientific and eco-tourism.

To obtain UNESCO recognition, that vision must not just be articulated, but must be enshrined in governance structures and legislation to ensure that it is realised. We envisage a strengthening of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act, and a regional authority based upon similar representation to the Gulf Forum. Within this structure, the Islands should be run by their residents.

The Royal Commission recognised “The main problem seems to be that most decisions are made in downtown Auckland.” (16.58) It addressed this by giving the Islands a special level of local autonomy within a parent authority that had “community engagement as its main focus”.

None of these specific recommendations are reflected in the current Bill. Though 28% of all submissions to the Royal Commission came from the Islands, the problems and issues they raised have been overlooked. The problems noted by the Royal Commission are likely to be exacerbated, rather than mitigated, by the current Bill.

The Hauraki Gulf and its Islands are so different from the isthmus that their true potential will never be realised for so long as they are forced to share a common vision. Now is the time for Auckland to address its own issues, and for the Gulf to address its own issues. That way both can have a bright future.


(a) Redefine ‘Auckland’ in Clause 5 of the Bill to include the isthmus, but to exclude the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands.

(b) Add a clause to the Bill to establish a separate authority for the Hauraki Gulf and its Islands, committed to seeking international recognition for its integrated approach to sustainability.

20 thoughts on “Waiheke as a UNESCO Reserve”

  1. Hi Colin,
    Please add me as a supporter to your submission.

    Thank you!


  2. Hi Colin, Please add me as a support to your submission.

    Thanks Andrew

  3. HI Colin

    Please add me as a passionate supporter to your submission.

  4. I strongly support this notion as far as Waiheke is concerned but can’t speak for the other islands. Are their residents on the same track ? Maybe they are not interested in autonomy and quite happy to be run by Auckland ? And is it realistic to think those tiny communities could become selfsufficient economies ? Would they become concrete boots when Waiheke tries to swim without Auckland ?

  5. Colin,
    Please add me as a supporter to your submission. Great work.

  6. Please add our names to your list of supporters for your submission to the select committee. Thank you so much for doing this for all of us on Waiheke. We are crossing our fingers.

  7. Hi Colin.
    Please add me as a supporter to your submission, and thanks for creating the opportunity


  8. I strongly support this submission. Waiheke and Gulf Islands are already World Heritage status in my view.

  9. Please add me as a supporter to your submission. This is important.

  10. I have lived at 52 Shelly Beach Road Waiheke for the last 33 years.This magnificent Island and its surrounds deserve the utmost protection in every way as it has already seen enormous change. Being so close to the major city in NZ it will be swallowed up if it is not protected quickly.

  11. Kia ora Colin, Please add me as a supporter to your submission, Nancy Gregory

  12. Kia ora Colin, I support your submission to the Royal Commission Regards Nancy

  13. Hi Please add Caroline and Alan Jarvie to your list of supportors, on behalf of the Wholistic Earth Trust and the Dolphin Centre NZ
    Environmental Learning

  14. Kia ora Colin, I definitely support your submission, awesome! Add me as a supporter 🙂

  15. Hi Colin, Fabulous idea. We always seek out UNESCO parks when we travel as they are world class. This would be a huge asset to Auckland and more importantly the identify and essence of Waiheke can be maintained locally.

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