A small, loud minority who oppose change at Eden Park has been the voice of our neighbourhood for too long, writes Jeremy Todd.
In our neighbourhood we have a sleeping giant, a kaumatua, a global icon and a vital contributor to our local community and our city. I am talking about Eden Park.
This week a hearing will decide whether or not Eden Park is able to hold up to six concerts per year. It’s a critical decision for Eden Park’s financial sustainability, and it has become a critical moment for the vast majority of the local community who support Eden Park to be heard.
For most New Zealanders and many overseas, Eden Park is synonymous with the All Blacks – it’s our national stadium. At some point in the future international tourists will once again travel to visit this legendary ground.
But for nearly all of us who live nearby, Eden Park is this and so much more. We see it as an asset to our community. An asset that adds excitement, diversity and community spirit to our lives. An asset that brings the world, New Zealanders and Aucklanders to our neighbourhood and business to our local economy.
But it’s an asset that is under-used, struggles to survive financially and constantly battles to justify its place in our community.
And yet it is ingrained in our community. From a garden that works with women from migrant and refugee backgrounds to food truck evenings, from offering the venue to local schools when their facilities are unavailable to using the stadium for national moments of mourning after the Christchurch massacre.
The vast majority of local residents are proud to live near Eden Park – proud of what it brings to our community. We want it to succeed and grow.
But that is not how our neighbourhood has been represented. A small, loud minority who oppose developments or change at Eden Park has been the “voice” of our neighbourhood for too long. Officially called the Eden Park Neighbours Association and colloquially called nimbys, this group has opposed Eden Park on every new development since lights were proposed for the stadium.
Members of this group also oppose changes at local schools and temporary new bus routes.
So loud has their opposition been that on Judgmental Maps our neighbourhood is labelled “Grumpy Residents”.
Our community is increasingly dismayed at being represented by this group. An alternative local residents group, EPRA, has been growing rapidly in membership in the last two to three years. It now represents 168 households, most of whom live within the parking restrictions area of Eden Park or just outside that zone where parking is permitted.
EPRA does not seek to support Eden Park per se; it seeks to represent the local community on matters relating to Eden Park. If our community does not support a proposed Eden Park initiative, then EPRA does not support it.
So where does the local community stand on Eden Park’s current application for six concerts? Ninety-five percent of EPRA members support it.
This almost unanimous support is consistent with all previous research and the most recent public consultation on concerts at Eden Park:
Those few opposing the current application like to say Eden Park will be imposing concerts on local residents. These results show it is more accurate to say their opposition is being imposed on the local community.
The media sometimes portrays our neighbourhood as divided. It is not. It is united – united in support of Eden Park.
Eden Park has been part of our community since 1900, and as one EPRA member said, “I moved next to Eden Park, it didn’t move next to me.”
There is another sleeping giant in our neighbourhood besides Eden Park, and that is the groundswell in vocal support for Eden Park and concerts from the previously silent majority.
Jeremy Todd is a resident within the Eden Park parking restrictions area and EPRA committee member
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