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Auckland Shooting Club ordered to shut down following conflict with neighbours

Auckland Shooting Club has been ordered to close down following a two-year conflict with neighbours.

The club, located north west of city near the Kaipara Harbour, has been operating since July 2017. It has been at the centre of conflict with local residents even before it opened according to locals, but a mistake by Auckland City Council has led to it being shut down.

The Court of Appeal yesterday found in favour of the Vipassana Foundation Charitable Trust Board which owns a meditation centre just over 1km away from the shooting range.

The Trust Board had fought against it opening in the area on Tuhirangi Road in Kaukapakapa, north west of Auckland, challenging the grant of the Certificate of Compliance, first by way of High Court judicial review, and then on appeal to the Court of Appeal, which was heard before the court in August last year.

The Court of Appeal has overturned the earlier decision of the High Court, which had found material error, but which did not quash the Certificate of Compliance. The decision of the Court of Appeal yesterday now removes the ability of the Auckland Shooting Club to operate from its site at on Tuhirangi Road.

A spokesperson for the club told 1 NEWS the mistake made by Auckland City Council and they submitted in "good faith".

Trust Board trustee Kirsty McKay said in a statement yesterday she was delighted at the outcome yesterday, but had "real concern" that Auckland City Council staff had known that the club was operating beyond the terms of its Certificate of Compliance, but took no effective action.

"The interests of the silent meditation retreat were not taken into account by Auckland Council when its staff granted the Certificate of Compliance," Ms McKay said in the statement.

Ms McKay told 1 NEWS today that neighbours held protests and put up signs on their property against the club, but said the fight turned nasty well before then.

"The nastiness began as soon as we sent a letter [outlining legal action]."

Ms McKay alleges people affiliated with the club were "malicious" and intimidated neighbours, vandalised property, including spray painting a swastika on one neighbours property where a protest sign was put up, and made both physical threats and threats to the meditation centre.

"The thing is that the community is unhappy about it [the club being opened]. We're going through the legal channels and putting up signs," she said. "We've always taken the moral high ground."

Ms McKay said people put up signs because "we wanted people to understand that the club was contentious and we believe it shouldn't be there". The community was not consulted or notified before its opening, she said.

"Now that the Certificate of Compliance has been revoked altogether members of the community are looking forward to peace and quiet being restored in the Makarau Valley."

The Auckland Shooting Club spokesperson said the council was at fault for not obtaining the information. "All information that was requested was provided and the application was completed and submitted in good faith."

The club describes itself as "a sports club that promotes firearms safety and education and responsible firearm ownership". It has about 600 members from 26 nationalities.

When asked about the conflict with neighbours, the spokesperson said, "There have been some people that don’t like the idea of the club and they are fully entitled to express their opinion. However when you consider that the allegations you have set out are made against such a diverse cross-section of Auckland residents I think you should question the veracity and motivation of the source."

Members have taken to the clubs Facebook since the news broke sharing their dissatisfaction with the closure.

The new shooting club is situated in the middle of 280 acres of private land in rural Makarau.
People protesting against Auckland Shooting Club in 2017. Source: 1 NEWS