new auckland

Feng shui blocks stormwater pipe plan

A Chinese couple trying to stop a new stormwater connection running under their property say the pipeline is bad Feng shui. 

In a rare step, their fight with their Mellons Bay neighbour is now before the Auckland Council's Regulatory Committee. Yu Wan and Jin Han are threatening legal action should the move go ahead. 

Their belief in Feng shui is not the only reason they use for declining permission for the new connection - the basis of it seems to be a bad relationship with the owner of the neighbouring development and the way he tried to get them to sign off on it. 

But a council report says their objection is also based on 'Feng shui' beliefs, "i.e. the resulting negative energies associated with construction of the pipeline and other properties’ waste going through their property which would affect their health and wealth". 

The Council's man in charge of sorting out disputes over resource consents, Robert Andrews, says it's not often that the Auckland Council's Regulatory Committee is needed to make a decision on the construction of private stormwater drains. 

"We estimate that there are no more than three or four of these instances per year, and this is the first time that we are aware of Feng shui being raised as a concern by an objector.

"We always encourage parties involved to reach their own settlement, and use the Local Government Act process, which allows the Regulatory Committee to make a decision, as a last resort."  

In this case the couple have turned down an offer of $3000 compensation. They have not been swayed by meetings between the parties and assurances their property would be returned to its former state. 

And while a taniwha theatened at one stage to derail the Auckland City Rail Link, the council doesn't have to take any heed of other cultural concerns. 

Says Andrews: "The committee, in hearing an objection, is limited to consider and determine whether the route is the only practical route for the stormwater drain under section 460 of the Local Government Act."

Council consent for the subdivision and development of the next-door property was granted in November 2014. It required the proposed Lot 2 to connect to an existing wastewater manhole, about 1m in from the common boundary of (Yu Wan and Jin Han's) neighbouring property, and to build a new public stormwater pipeline by thrusting (or drilling) across it.  

Yu Wan and Jin Han's other concerns, laid out in the council's report, centre around not just the stormwater pipeline but the whole development, which adds another home to a shared driveway which eight other households currently use. They are not happy with the heavy machinery being brought in to build the house next door, and say the stormwater pipe could leak, become blocked, or burst - and "injure the foundation soil of my property".

Through a translator they told the council they were very unhappy regarding the manner in which the applicant, Andrius Mitalauskas, had previously approached them to sign off the consent form. Council efforts to mediate have failed, ending in a text message from the couple saying "... I have no time to talk this topic again. If necessary, I will use legal means to solve the problem."

The couple also say they plan to build a "swimming pool or basement" in their back yard to increase the value of their property, and the pipes will limit future planning. 

The Regulatory Committee is due to make a decision on the case tomorrow morning, and there is no right of appeal. Officers have recommended that the construction of the pipeline through the property is endorsed, as it's the only practical option.

Auckland Feng shui consultant Danny Thorn has been called in before to look at claims of bad Feng shui when it comes to developments, but isn't aware of any cases where it's been used sucessfully. He says without using a proper Chinese compass and visiting the property he couldn't tell if the claim is valid. In two other cases he has been called in to see if claims have been legitimate, but they haven't been. 

"A great many Chinese people know things on the periphery of Feng shui, but there's quite a bit that's subject to superstition," he says. "There are two types of Feng shui; there's real, and there's complete hocus pocus."

But Thorn warns that as more Chinese people settle in New Zealand and buy property, more of these kinds of claims are likely.

"It doesn't mean they will be legitimate." 

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