Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 30 October 2014

Progress on beaches

When the Council meets today, it will be to consider an agenda that is dominated by matters of direct relevance to the people of the Te Hiku Ward, including a number of issues that have had somewhat problematic pasts.

Of particular interest is the subject of vehicles on beaches. There is a long history of problems arising from conflicting uses of Ninety Mile Beach, especially in summer when hundreds of people use the beach for a wide range of recreational activities. I am pleased that, after many years of procrastination, we are finally addressing issues at Ahipara where we plan to introduce a number of temporary safety measures pending the official transfer of beach management responsibilities to Te Oneroa-a-Tohe Statutory Board. These include erecting new information signs to publicise 30 kph speed limits on the beach near the Kaka Street and Foreshore Road access points. We will also develop information brochures that identify environmentally-sensitive areas such as dotterel nest locations and dune protection areas. We recognise that these measures alone won't change the behaviour of beach users who ignore requests to behave responsibly and with consideration to others so plan to reinforce these messages with a physical presence by enlisting either voluntary community patrols or, if necessary, paid patrol services. We will also develop this public information and education programme in consultation with the statutory board to ensure that it is in line with a management plan the board is developing for the entire Ninety Mile Beach foreshore area.

Another agenda item which should interest beach users is a proposal to investigate a regional approach to funding surf live saving services. Surf Live Saving Northern Region provides vital life saving services at six Northland beaches each summer, but has to go 'cap in hand' to Northland councils each year to fund its operations. Each of the councils decides the level of support they are willing to offer to surf live saving at different times and independently of each other. Coordinating council support for surf life saving and potentially other emergency services, including coastguard and the Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter, would allow these organisations to plan these important services with more certainty. Ratepayers will get an opportunity to have their say on any changes we propose when we consult on our Long Term Plan.

We are also taking steps to resolve the failed development of 122 Houhora Heads Road as a sports complex. For those not aware, work on this project stopped six years ago when an investigation revealed the site was an indigenous wetland. We now plan to restore the wetland and seek community feedback on a proposal to develop a smaller sports field at Araiawa Domain.

We're not quite ready to declare that we have solved these problems, but we are making progress. Our approach also shows a willingness to collaborate with other councils, work with Tangata Whenua and be guided by the community in our decision-making. That is how we will move forward together as a district and as a region.


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