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Protection needed at Makorori

Opinion Piece

There are no formal council meetings this week so I will review a couple of serious concerns the community have bought to us.

First, Makorori beach dunes and ecosystem.

Last summer the residents of Makorori settlement became increasingly concerned at the speeding vehicles on the beach when families and young children were on the beach playing and swimming. Makorori is protected from freedom camping quite specifically so that the public and families can use the beach by day.

The community met last July as the Covid lockdown frustrated a meeting in the autumn of 2020. The community are unanimously concerned over speeding vehicles on the beach and seek to have a bylaw promoted to restrict driving to the launching of a boat and to emergency vehicles. They also want to see the random driving all over the dunes limited.

They have implored NZTA to limit the number of accessways on to the beach so that the dunes have a chance to recover and so that it is safer on SH35, with limited accessways from the beach to the state highway.

Never until this past year have I and others seen such shocking and deliberate degradation of the dunes. And I must add, this is not from the activity of the motorcycle club who have a consent for limited activity on the actual beach at low tide a few times a year.

Last winter “hoons” on quad bikes created the most appalling mud bath at the south end of the beach and once the ruts were made, others in four-wheel-drive vehicles used those ruts and tracks to drive further into the mud and sand dunes. The damage is severe and so far there has been no official action to stop such degradation nor to protect the dunes.

Now in mid-summer the dunes have been very dry and so access is easy for cars and 4WD vehicles and, more than ever before, cars are driving all over the dunes and new car parks are created at points all along the beach. The beach grass, spinifex in particular, is being eroded away and the dunes are in the most degraded state that it has ever been in more than 50 years.

Should sea level rise or the smallest tsunami occur then the beach is vulnerable to severe erosion, as the beach grasses are what hold the dunes and protect the biodiversity.

Traffic calming is another community request we hear quite often. Stout Street, Tyndall Road, Sponge Bay Road and the Ormond village are all areas that have been drawn to our attention for some safety improvements.

Last week at council the issues of Stout St and Tyndall Rd and Domain Rd, Ormond were addressed in a paper to the Operations committee, and while some residents of Stout St may prefer alternate traffic calming it is really pleasing to see that some work is to be programmed in the 2021-22 financial year and will be factored into the Long-Term Plan shortly to be out for consultation.

In regard to Sponge Bay Rd, as that speed designation is still 100kmh there needs to be a reduced speed limit before traffic calming can be executed on the roadway. There is concern that many residents from the Sponge Bay subdivision enjoy walking along that road and there are instances of unsafe driving, taking out fences etc. This road will be addressed in the speed study before other limitations can be considered.

Be sure to take part in the 10-year LTP consultation in March, more on that shortly.

Pat Seymour