IN THE MATTER
of the Resource Management Act
IN THE MATTER OF the submissions of Elizabeth Patricia
Witehira on the proposed Hamilton
ELIZABETH PATRICIA WITEHIRA
19 November 2013
My name is Elizabeth (Liz) Witehira. I am a long time resident of Hamilton City and lived in
Temple View for approximately 20 years. I am a business administrator and currently work
for Hamilton Girls‟ High School as Director of Boarding.
By way of background, my parents joined the Church in Australia and sold all they had to
move to New Zealand to be part of the Labour Missionary programme and have their
children educated at Church College.
After the 2006 closure of Church College was announced my husband and I were
approached to be part of a group making suggestions for re-purposing of the facilities. I
met often with the Area President at the time, Elder Spencer Condie. He encouraged me
to continue proposing re-purposing options. As part of this group, which included some
high ranking Church leaders, I prepared comprehensive information and proposals for the
Area Presidency relating to establishing a special character school for years 1-13 at the
old CCNZ site so that Koromatua School, which is located approximately 4 kilometres
south west of Temple View with approximately 300 students at the time, could relocate
E Witehira Submissions to Hamilton City Council PDP November 2013 – Page 1
into Temple View as 95% of its students live in Temple View but either walk or bus to
school. The then Minister of Education expressed an interest in considering such a
proposal as part of an „Integrated Schools‟ programme. However, when we arranged for
the Minister to visit the CCNZ site his visit was declined by the Board.
We were involved in the process around implementation of Variation 7. I along with other
members of the Temple View Heritage Society met with various representatives of
Hamilton City Council, including Mayor Bob Simcock, and local Members of Parliament to
ensure that a democratic process was followed.
When Elder Condie returned to America however, Elder David Baxter became the Area
President and took a completely different view to Elder Condie. He issued my husband
and I with a cease and desist letter, essentially threatening our Church membership.
It is important to acknowledge that Church members contribute to the ongoing growth and
development of the Church as a charitable organisation. The Trust Board members who
administer the real estate assets at Temple View are stewards of the contributions made
by those who donate to the Church. As such it is imperative that any decision relating to
the use of donated funds is made wisely and with sensitivity to the affected community.
The process followed to date however has seen inaccurate and insensitive information
being included in applications to Hamilton City Council, limited information released to the
affected community, religious coercion and scare tactics to intimidate people affected by
the decisions being made.
Proposed District Plan
If we think back 15 years when the current Operative District Plan was being considered,
there was no thought at all that we would today be considering rules and structure plans
about land use in Temple View. This was a settled community that appeared to have been
built for inter-generational purposes. However, what was then never thought possible is
now on the table. Decisions made today will have an impact for years to come. For this
reason I submit that a careful and considered approach be taken to repair the rift that has
ensued as a result of the process followed to date.
E Witehira Submissions to Hamilton City Council PDP November 2013 – Page 2
To sustainably manage any proposed changes to the assets administered by the Trust
Board (particularly where a proposal may include sale of large tracts of land to private
property developers) satisfactory rules must be implemented to ensure that the affected
community is given an opportunity to express their views without coercion. Currently many
people in the community are not fully aware of the Board‟s long-term plans because only
partial information has been disclosed to people who have been asked to support the
Board‟s proposals presented in religious meetings at chapels throughout the country.
Hamilton City Council has a legal requirement to sustainably manage any proposed
changes to the special character of Temple View and in accordance with urban design
protocols this includes sustainable management of cultural wellbeing.
Cultural wellbeing can only be achieved where a community is provided with full
disclosure and accurate information about any proposed development and then given an
opportunity to make submissions through a transparent and robust process. To date this
has not occurred and I submit that it is the duty of Hamilton City Council to ensure that a
sustainable, transparent and robust process is implemented forthwith.
In this regard I would like to state that there is no personal gain in doing what we are
doing. We do not have the financial backing of a multinational organization, we have not
been promised discounted land deals or paid positions within the Church. We have simply
seen an injustice and spoken up. This has resulted in a rift with people we have know for a
long time and quite surprisingly we have even been mocked by certain Council staff.
Chapter 5 – Special Character – Submission Points
The current proposal for mixed use CDP on a small tract of land which may result in the
removal of historic buildings, with land sold to a private property developer for high density
residential and commercial development and perhaps building of a stake centre to replace
use of the David O. McKay and other historic buildings does not, in my view, maintain or
enhance the special character of Temple View as required by Section 5 of the Proposed
E Witehira Submissions to Hamilton City Council PDP November 2013 – Page 3
I submit that Chapter 5 be strengthened to increase the scope of the Character Area /
Comprehensive Development Plan requirements currently identified in 22.214.171.124 Temple
View Special Character Area to include all property bordering the Heritage Area, not just
the small tract of land that is currently identified. This would provide for identification and
purposing of areas around the Heritage Area to create a long term plan to maintain and
enhance the special character and needs of the Temple View community moving forward.
Clauses 5.2.7h and 5.2.7j should be retained to provide for adequate protection and
maintenance of existing structures while a long term CDP relating to all land around the
Heritage Area can be completed;
We must bear in mind that as the Board has now indicated its intention to sell the land
identified in the Character Area to a private property developer, there may be such an
intention for all other land surrounding the Heritage Area;
Given the move to now start selling portions of Temple View to private developers, is there
a likelihood that the Temple may be closed and all the surrounding land sold to fund a
newer and lower operating-cost Temple in another area such as Auckland (where land
has been set aside for a Temple). One must ask whether or not this is actually the long
term plan for the Temple View community and whether the promises of new houses and
new church buildings are just an attempted rort.
Currently the Board has an investment in the Temple View community because of the
historic buildings. If however Hamilton City Council allows for the special character of
Temple View to be so dramatically altered by destruction of the historic structures, the
Church will have little reason to retain an active part in the Temple View community.
Is it possible that within the next 15-20 years the special character of Temple View could
cease to exist? If the historic buildings are allowed to be removed, property developers
attempt a property development with no community assets and the Temple closed what
special character would Temple View retain. It would in fact be no different than any other
suburb of Hamilton. Do we know if this is the intended plan? No. Did we know 15 years
ago that the current plan was intended by the Board? No.
E Witehira Submissions to Hamilton City Council PDP November 2013 – Page 4
Today we are at a crossroads. The right questions need to be asked, the right long term
strategic plans and rules need to be put in place and correct processes followed to ensure
that the special character of Temple View is respected.
Furthermore, in relation to section 126.96.36.199g when taking into consideration any proposed
development at Temple View I submit that it is essential to consider whether or not it is
efficient use of resources, as required by the RMA, to demolish buildings that have served
the community for over 50 years and replace them with new buildings that essentially will
serve the same purpose. For example, the David O McKay building has been used as a
stake centre for over 50 years and the Wendell B Mendenhall Library has been used for
regular Sunday Church services for many years.
3.10 To assist in answering the above question I would like to refer you to other developments
and refurbishments that the Board has undertaken. Attached are newspaper reports about
refurbishments or purchases that provide information about how the Board has protected
heritage sites and structures in other areas.
Article 1 - Beloved Mormon meetinghouse gets makeover in east Salt Lake City. (A
church that was originally built in 1847 has been completely refurbished);
Article 2 – Mormons buy property at site of Missouri massacre;
Article 3 – The levitating church – 130 year old exterior of the Provo tabernacle is
raised on stilts as work begins to restore it into a Mormon temple after devastating
fire almost destroyed it;
Article 4 – Mormon Church purchases 2% of the state of Florida for half a billion
Article 5 – Historic Ogden Mormon church reopens after two-year restoration
These are just a few of many restoration projects the Board is involved in.
Following is an excerpt from Article 5 above that encapsulates the feelings many people
hold about Temple View:
“....The upgrade consisted of seisimic work, new carpets, improved plumbing and
restrooms, the rebuilding of classrooms and the refurbishment of just about everything
E Witehira Submissions to Hamilton City Council PDP November 2013 – Page 5
while keeping the look and feel of the historic building, including its pipe organ behind the
pulpit. ….We wanted to respect the work of our forefathers...The symbolic meaning of this
building means sacrifice and honouring God. Everything that can be represented in that
can be found in the structure here. The idea is that when we build something we build it to
last forever so future generations can see what we’ve done and build upon it......”
Figure 4.5: Submission Points
I attended meetings with Hamilton City Council Planning staff and it appears there has
been some misunderstanding as the Section 42a Report indicated that there was “an
agreed approach” to Figure 4.5. However, my submission is that Figure 4.5 be removed
as it relates only to a small portion of the land managed by the Trust Board and does not
adequately reflect the true perspective of the area.
I submit that Figure 4.5 be replaced with a figure that accurately identifies all land
managed by the Board surrounding the Heritage Area.
The Trust Board has promoted to Hamilton City Council staff the need to protect the
Heritage Area but has identified only a small portion of the land around the Heritage Area.
One may question whether there may be a hidden agenda that has not been fully
disclosed even to Hamilton City Council officials.
The following images from the Hamilton City Council website show additional landholdings
managed by the Board in Temple View that I submit should be included in a long term
strategic plan. If the true reason for the CDP is to protect the Heritage Area then one must
ask why only this small tract of land where the historic structures are standing is included
in Figure 4.5 but land beside and behind the Heritage Area has been ignored.
Image 1, 2 & 3 – printouts from the property search section of the Hamilton City
Council website show tracts of land managed by the Trust Board which may be
more suitable for the proposed development than the area currently identified;
Image 4 – an overview of the Temple View area with areas marked in red that are
managed by the Trust Board.
E Witehira Submissions to Hamilton City Council PDP November 2013 – Page 6
From my lay perspective and based on the limited information I have obtained, Image 4
identifies land parcels that appear to be part of the Trust Board‟s landholdings. This may
not be all of the Board‟s landholdings in and around Temple View as I am not privy to
detailed information about these assets.
In 1957 the New Zealand Government passed an Act of Parliament entitled “The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Trust Board Empowering Act”. This was in essence a
covenant between the Trust Board and the people of New Zealand.
The Act empowered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Trust Board to build
or purchase real estate to carry out the objectives defined in the Schedule.
Section 7(h) of the Act requires the Board:
“…to take all reasonable and proper care to keep in a state of good order and repair all
buildings and other permanent improvements forming part of the Board’s property…
Section 7(i) requires the Board:
“…to use any money or funds held by the Board for the general religious, charitable, and
educational purposes of the Church in New Zealand for such purposes as may appear to
the Board to be desirable for the better achieving of the purposes of the Board and the
carrying out of any of the aforesaid powers ….”
From 1958 onwards the Board carried out a building programme at Temple View and
throughout New Zealand. This was funded by donations of money, personnel time,
property, food for workers etc. Millions of dollars over many years have been and continue
to be donated by families from across New Zealand and the Pacific in support of the
objectives of the Board to build religious and educational facilities. Churches were built
from the same materials and by the same workmen who constructed the historic buildings
at Temple View. However, only the buildings in Temple View are targeted for destruction.
4.10 The historic buildings at Temple View have been used for housing, community facilities,
religious meetings; accommodation for people attending the NZ Temple, charitable
purposes, public concerts, public sports events and alumni reunions.
E Witehira Submissions to Hamilton City Council PDP November 2013 – Page 7
4.11 For some years now the Board has lobbied Hamilton City Council to seek support for
destruction of all buildings that constituted the former Church College campus. Thousands
of dollars, or perhaps millions, have been spent on consultants who have prepared reports
setting out what the Board wants people to hear. The amount of money spent on these
consultants could have brought the historic buildings up to a reasonable standard. But
instead, as part of this move, a number of the buildings have been internally stripped and
damaged by those given the stewardship to maintain them.
4.12 The Board has broken its covenant with the New Zealand people to “take all reasonable
and proper care to keep in a state of good order and repair all buildings and other
permanent improvements forming part of the Board’s property” and is instead seeking
Council support for demolition by deterioration whilst lobbying to sell to private property
4.13 But, we are not even asking the Church to pay for refurbishing of these beautiful historic
buildings, we will do that. If given the opportunity we will pull together as our forefathers
did, we will volunteer, donate and contribute to maintaining and enhancing the special
character that is inherent in the historic structures at Temple View. All we are asking for is
the opportunity, however even that is being denied so that some greedy property
speculators can pull down these majestic buildings and replace them with high density
housing and shops.
4.14 The Board has the resources to repurpose all buildings that make up the precinct, if it is
required to do so. Sir, you have the power in your hands to make a difference. Will you be
as brave as our forefathers who sacrificed and travelled from other lands to build the
Temple View precinct, who believed that they were literally „building now for eternity‟ –
This is the motto the builders believed in….. Build now for eternity, NOT build now for 50
19 November 2013
E Witehira Submissions to Hamilton City Council PDP November 2013 – Page 8