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Keep Sponge Bay access where stairway is now

Opinion Piece

Why are we not surprised to read your report that the Sponge Bay stairway is to be closed for good?

“For good” are very questionable words to be using to headline this story.

It is absolutely typical of the GDC we’ve become accustomed to, ie to take the expedient cop-out approach to a problem involving “nature”. It’s the same as GDC’s head-in-the-sand approach to the railway line blockage by slips south of Gisborne. That is, leave it alone and don’t do anything to interfere with the course of nature — the same ignorant approach by bureaucrats to beach erosion at Wainui; don’t stop it, just let Mother Nature have her way.

I was hoping that under Mayor Stoltz we would get a more enlightened approach to public works for the general good of the local populace.

Only this week I wrote to GDC customer services about the Sponge Bay stairway access problem, thus:

“The stairs down to the beach need repair or replacement. I strongly recommend a well-designed structure properly anchored at the top and cleverly constructed to remain in place even if further erosion occurs.”

It is imperative to retain beach access here for historical and cultural reasons, and to not resort to the easy way out and the expedient bureaucratic solution of doing away with the stairs — otherwise people will further damage the crumbling cliff because even if access is denied, people will ignore your notices, fences and barriers and create a new a path anyway, since there is no way you can block or stop surfers and kai moana gatherers from doing what we’ve done for generations.

The alternative of creating a new pathway to the beach at the north end of the bay will only lead to further damage by foot traffic.

This is an impassioned plea to apply resource and imagination to resolving a problem rather than arbitrarily dispensing with it. Why can’t we design something modern and appealing that minimises human impact and actually helps preserve this beautiful little bay?

John Woods, Sponge Bay resident and ratepayer