The Waitaki Concerned Citizens and Ratepayers Association
yesterday accused the Labour Party of abandoning Oamaru's
natural heritage after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of
a controversial Bill to confirm land at Forrester Heights as
The Waitaki District Council Reserves and Other Land
Empowering Bill, which passed its second reading on Wednesday
night by 97 votes to 23, seeks to reverse a 1937
administrative error that wrongly classified 5.8ha of land as
After a recent decision from the parliamentary local
government and environment select committee that agreed the
land was endowment land, the Bill received strong support
from both National and Labour MPs, the only real opposition
coming from the Green Party and New Zealand First (14 votes
and 8 votes opposed, respectively).
Select committee chairwoman Nicky Wagner said there had been
many "twists and turns" in how the land had been recorded
down the years and, although getting to the bottom of the
issue had been like participating in "a historical whodunit",
after examining detailed information she was confident it had
never officially been anything other than endowment land.
Waitaki Concerned Citizens and Ratepayers Association
chairman Warren Crawford said he was very disappointed with
the vote, and with the Labour Party in particular.
"It was an astonishing result. With the Labour Party
Conference on this weekend they should be discussing their
heritage policy, because they have completely ignored the
heritage of Forrester Heights."
Moa bones had been found on the site and it was used in the
19th century as a quarantine station for both animals and
Local iwi Waitaha also expressed dissatisfaction with the
result. Te Runanganui O Waitaha me Maata Waka Inc tumuaki
Stephen Bray said there had been a lack of public
consultation on the issue and the council should conduct
proper consultation on whatever it planned to do with the
land in the future.
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said she was pleased the majority of
the House had weighed the evidence closely and concluded that
the land had in the past been "wrongly interpreted" as
The Bill now moves to the committee of the whole stage, where
amendments to the Bill may be added, ahead of its third
Mrs Dean said she was "hopeful" the Bill would become law by
Easter next year.