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Silent meditators at war with the neighbours

A silent meditation centre is continuing its fight against the largest shooting range in Australasia, which has just opened next door.

In the latest episode of the unlikely neighbours at war, Vipassana Auckland is seeking solicitors to help it appeal against the High Court decision to grant Auckland Shooting Club's consent. The case has already been to the High Court, where the judge's ruling allowed the shooting range's Auckland Council-granted consent to go ahead.

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett opened the range on Friday, following a judge’s decision at the end of June.

Located in rural Makarau, Kaipara Harbour the consent was for two pistol areas with a six-bay shooting range on the lifestyle block of Raymond O’Brien and Victoria Pichler.

The couple plan to expand the site to up to 30 bays, and have claimed victory on the Auckland Shooting Club’s website.

Vipassana is a non-religious, silent meditation centre that attracts about 1500 meditators each year. It is run as a charity, with meditators paying donations to attend the mentally challenging courses that range from 10 to 21 days in length.

Completed in silence, meditators are not allowed to speak or communicate with others and cannot use mobile phones, read books, listen to music, or write anything down.

Vipassana centres are located around the world, and Auckland’s centre has been situated in its remote location on Burnside Rd, Kaukapakapa for over 30 years.

Although former students were sent an email from Vipassana Foundation Charitable Trust Board asking for legal help in its bid to the Court of Appeal, a spokesperson told Newsroom a final decision on whether to appeal has yet to be made.

“The trustees have taken legal advice on the court’s decision," the email reads.

"The advice identifies that there are potential grounds to appeal the decision of the High Court to the Court of Appeal.”

While the trust has a resource management lawyer, but it also seeking a new lawyer to help with its plight.

“To date that role has been ably and generously fulfilled by a Vipassana student, who has acted on a pro bono (no cost) basis for the trust for the past eight months.

“The trust ideally would like to be able to secure a Vipassana student to act as the instructing solicitor for the purposes of advising the trust in this next phase, in relation to the certificate of compliance, and any related action.”

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