Protectionists will be peeved as a pugnacious Piha preservationist pitches for support

Alf gave the protectionists' domain a miss... sup with the preservationists.

Hats off to Andrew Higgs, who aims to represent residents of Auckland’s west coast villages and towns east of the Waitakere Ranges.

Andrew was involved in the struggle against a reactionary army of greenies, heritage huggers, meusli munchers and what-have-you-to set up a cafe in Piha.

An outfit called the Protect Piha Heritage Society engaged in a three-years battle with Preserve Piha Limited in the Environment Court to scuttle the cafe proposal.

And so Piha protectionists were pitched against Piha preservationists (readers should warn anyone within spitting distance to stand well back before they read those words out loud).

The preservationists won, and the Environment Court last year confirmed the cafe’s resource consents. But onerous conditions were heaped on the cafe operators.

The front man for the cafe battle – by the way – was TV star and ex-All Black Marc Ellis.

He’s an impish bugger, your Marc Ellis, and Alf would put money on his involvement in naming the cafe company.

But let’s get back to the upcoming elections.

According to The Herald, the Environment Court exercise got Higgs, a main partner in the venture, interested in local government.

“It has not been working and, believe me, I know. I think you can sit on the sidelines and complain or get involved.”

Damned right. Alf gets very pissed off with people who complain but never become involved in government – at local or national level – and in many cases don’t even bother to vote.

Higgs, 38, is general manager of Parex Industries in Henderson.

He is standing on the Citizens & Ratepayers ticket for the Waitakere Ranges Local Board election, presumably to promote his pro-business attitudes.

Returning from executive jobs in Britain five years ago to raise a family at Piha, the keen surfer was struck by the negativity towards business.

“Attitudes need to change because in the business community everybody supports each other because they know how hard it is.

“Local boards should get behind business, because the median age of Waitakere residents is 33 and over half are in small businesses and struggling.”

Auckland Regional Councillor Sandra Coney was among those who opposed the cafe, according to a TVNZ report at the time.

On the strength of what she had to say, the case against the cafe was pathetically insubstantial.

“(People) go for the sand, they go for the surf, they don’t go (to Piha) for a latte” says Coney, a well-known local who was part of the fight to stop the cafe being built.

“I think it might be the thin edge of the wedge to urbanising the whole place,” says another local who opposes the cafe.

The ayes have it.

Alf didn’t bother going to Piha at all before the Preserve Piha bunch moved in with their cafe, because he does not care much for sand and surf.

He has visited since the cafe was opened for business.

Nah, you can stuff your lattes – he favours a short black.

He also likes being on the side of winners.

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