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Protesters say 'no' to port plan
Friday November 24, 2006
By Mathew Dearnaley

Waterfront stadium opponents denied speaking rights at last night's Auckland City Council meeting made a plea in Aotea Square earlier for politicians not to dismiss serious public concerns.

Institute of Architects gold medal-holder David Mitchell told a lunchtime gathering, which began as only a few dozen protesters but grew over half an hour to about 220, that the ancient Greeks built their stadiums in natural amphitheatres.

"They worked with nature - this project is unnatural," he said of the Government's waterfront stadium proposal for hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup and other events.

"You can forget talk about crystal palaces beaming out light, and talk of icons and the Sydney Opera House," he said. "You are not going to get one.

"There will be 60,000 seats stacked 10 to 12 storeys high around a paddock. It will be empty every day, all day and as [Auckland University School of Architecture deputy head] Diane Brand has already said, for those of us on the outside, it will be all bum."

Mr Mitchell said it was not surprising that a poll of Auckland architects had shown them to be even more opposed to the proposal than the general public, given that they were people who tried to match sites with buildings.

"The fundamental problem here is that rugby and the sea have nothing in common. What self-respecting architect would build a giant obstacle across the most cherished view of the harbour and blank it out with an inward-looking activity?"

Quality Public Education Coalition chairman and former anti-Springbok tour leader John Minto said the cost of a waterfront stadium would balloon to $1 billion and Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard had lacked any such big vision when he held the education portfolio and began closing schools.

He suggested the Government revert to the original proposal on which New Zealand last year won the right to host the World Cup - a $45 million temporary-seating upgrade of Eden Park - rather than the $385 million proposal which frightened the Clark Administration into the waterfront notion.

Rally organiser Douglas Sadlier, a sports fan whose day job is in planning, said Eden Park was a "cathedral" to the rugby world.

"It is part of my culture, part of my upbringing as an Aucklander."

Act leader Rodney Hide and Green MP Keith Locke also spoke, continuing their unlikely alliance against the waterfront stadium.

Mr Locke warned the city and regional councils against accepting a "giant economic albatross" around the necks of their people for years to come, and won a round of applause for "five great Aucklanders" who later yesterday proved unsuccessful in seeking an injunction to stall stadium decisions.

His new buddy, Mr Hide, declared: "The Government and city council do not own the waterfront, Aucklanders do. It's our waterfront."