People's fight for park: the history

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has proposed the development of 94 nose-in car parks along the Brownston St frontage (pictured) of Pembroke Park, in Wanaka. This would require using some of the reserve land. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council has proposed the development of 94 nose-in car parks along the Brownston St frontage (pictured) of Pembroke Park, in Wanaka. This would require using some of the reserve land. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Loris King explains that the latest proposals to encroach on Wanaka's Pembroke Park is one in a long line of such attempts.

Sadly, Pembroke Park in Wanaka is in the news again.

For many new residents now residing in Wanaka, this will be a complete mystery, so I feel compelled to explain.

The large park in the heart of Wanaka called Pembroke Park is owned by the Crown and is classified as a recreation reserve under the Reserves Act .

Under the Reserves Act only parking that is directly related to the recreational activity can be located on the reserve.

The park is administered by the Queenstown Lakes District Council under an appointment to control and manage. One of the management objectives is to preserve in perpetuity Pembroke Park as a recreational area for the enjoyment of the people of Wanaka and visitors.

The Pembroke Park management plan is the document which is supposed to give the community certainty about the function and the management of the reserve. The land was once held by the New Zealand Electricity Department pending possible control of Lake Wanaka for hydroelectric purposes, and in 1967, although the park was still in the control of the NZED, its administration was transferred to the Wanaka Islands Domain Board.

In 1971 the control and management of the park was transferred to the council of the day.

1. In 1978 the Lake County Council decided that the area should be zoned to permit the erection of a community centre but with the council being the only support, and much opposition, it was abandoned.

2. In 1985 the Lake County Council again tried to build a new community hall on Pembroke Park, with one councillor telling the committee they would ''need public support as that is where it went wrong last time''. Again public opposition was too great.

3. In 1995 the Queenstown Lakes District Council tried to rezone the reserve so the community complex could be built on the reserve but this time, with 781 objections against, the commissioner appointed to hear submissions ruled that there be no changes to the designation to allow the community complex to be built on the park.

4. In 2000, with building on the park out of the question, the council eyed up the reserve as a car park for the town and, in contravention of the rules governing recreational reserves, the Queenstown Lakes District Council constructed 136 car parks on the Dungarvon St end of Pembroke Park. This serves as a car park for the CBD.

5. As if this is not enough, the council is now trying to justify encroaching into Pembroke Park along areas of Brownston St, to provide more parking, by saying it is for park users, and is ''giving'' Pembroke Park strips of road reserve which come right to the edge of the road. These are completely unsuitable as reserve land. This parking on Pembroke Park cannot be justified as being for park users as there are options for ample on-street parking, without any more incursions into Pembroke Park.

Perhaps some people will now understand what a travesty has been committed. What rightfully belongs to all people has, in some cases, been taken and, in other cases, is still under constant threat by the body appointed to protect it.

Although in the past, developers were required to provide parking for new developments in the CBD, some years ago this provision was removed from the district plan and, without forward planning to provide for car parking for the central town area, it appears our reserves are now seen as an inexpensive, easy option.

- Loris King, of Wanaka, has been campaigning against encroachment on Pembroke Park for 40 years.