Tony Holman, Chairman of the Little Shoal Bay Protection Society has stood down in favour of Mr Jeremy Richards, a local resident with a long and strong interest in the reserve.
Tony and Dinah Holman have been heavily involved in endeavours to save and improve the Bay since the 1960s when the then Northcote Borough Council proposed to use the former Northcote Gas company land for other industrial use.
Strong community opposition saw the council re-zone the land for holiday accommodation (a camping ground and motel). This too had quite strong opposition from many who wanted the land for a park.
Then in the 1970s the Birkenhead Borough Council began dumping waste products in the wetland and Dinah and others fought this to a standstill.
These unpopular activities by the two councils led to increasing concern from more and more people who saw the beauty, importance and potential of Little Shoal Bay.
The final catalyst for very strong action from the community came about when it was learned that the new North Shore City Council had secretly decided to sell the motel and camping ground into private hands, who seemed likely to build intensive housing in the Bay.
Tony and Dinah invited a number of local activists to form the LSB Action Committee whose objective was to stop any such development and to urge the council to buy back the land for open space for the whole community.
A large groundswell of public support saw petitions, and protest meetings of some hundreds in the Bay (with the Mayor and some councillors present.)
This work continued unabated for about six years. During that time Tony Holman was elected to council where he pushed for the repurchase, continually backed by strong public support. These efforts were successful in 1999 when the land was repurchased and zoned as public open space.
After that, the Action Committee and Tony continued to play an important role in seeking improvements to the Bay and to make submissions on numerous matters.
In 2008 the LSB Action Committee changed its name to LSB Protection Society to put greater emphasis on a public guardian role, aiming to see that what has been gained over a long period of time and struggle is not eroded, and that the public is kept informed of any matters which might impact on a park – a precious gem for the enjoyment of the public.
In signing off, Tony says that little would have been achieved without huge and persistent public support over five decades and he hopes that this will continue well in to the future. Of current concern to him and the Committee are the considerable dangers for this and most reserves arising from the proposed Unitary Plan for Auckland.
His final plea to the community – please cherish and take care of your park and have the authorities on if you don’t like their “improvements” to your park.