Boating Club says erosion protection costs might have to be shared

19 Oct 2021

Boating Club says erosion protection costs might have to be shared

A report by 4Sight Consultants, commissioned to address the ongoing risk of erosion at different parts of Buffalo Beach in Whitianga, was considered by the Mercury Bay Community Board at its meeting earlier this month.

The report made a number of prioritised recommendations to deal with the erosion over a 20-year period. 

It was impressed on the board that the adoption of any recommendations will have to align with Thames-Coromandel District Council’s Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) process, a three-year Coromandel Peninsula-wide project that has now reached its final year of development. Public meetings are taking place as part of the SMP process over the next two weeks. The plans, once finalised, will identify the shoreline areas around the Peninsula impacted by erosion, what needs to be done at each area, if anything, and the order of priority in which the work has to be done.

The 4Sight report identified the erosion at the Mercury Bay Boating Club as the highest priority along Buffalo Beach, followed by the end of the existing rock wall at the southern end of the beach, opposite Halligan Road. The report recommended a “hybrid” seawall solution at the Boating Club and a “tie off” of the rock wall at Halligan Road to allow for dune planting initiatives in the area.

In adopting the recommendations contained in the report, the Community Board requested for the report to be referred to the SMP process as its preference for future planning and management of the Buffalo Beach coastline. With regard to the cost of the work to be undertaken at the Boating Club, the board agreed to identify funding arrangements with the club.

Replying to the outcome of the Community Board meeting, Mercury Bay Boating Club commodore, Jonathan Kline, said the club is a community-minded youth and adult sailing centre, serving an array of schools and towns around the Coromandel. “We also serve the wider district as a special location for weddings, memorials, seminars, lectures and much more,” he said. “The land we occupy, the northern portion of the Taputapuatea Spit, is owned by Thames-Coromandel District Council and is leased to our club. However, our club only occupies a small portion of the land area and in no way retains exclusive use of the land. Quite the contrary, this portion of the spit is frequented by surfers, fisherman, dog walkers and beachgoers, making the reserve a shared amenity and community asset, not simply a place for members of the boating club.

“With no other waterfront option currently available, our club is committed to defending our current location and remain one of the prime sea-based youth training organisations and yachting destinations in the Waikato region. We also accept that the cost of protecting our clubhouse falls on our club members. However, all of the land is public land and therefore, it is our belief that council and other landowners who will benefit might have to contribute [to the costs].

“How this can be achieved is open for discussion, but a fair system using the resources of those affected along with methods only available through councils such as cheaper government funding, streamlined consent processes and targeted rates need to be implemented.”

The SMP public meetings over then next two weeks will begin with a presentation of the risks and hazards in each area, and the potential management options. That will be followed by questions and discussion. The Whitianga meeting will take place on Saturday this week (23 October) in the Whitianga Town Hall at 9:00am. 

Meetings will also be held in Matarangi (on 23 October at 2:00pm at the Matarangi Fire Station), Cooks Beach (on Monday, 25 October at 2:00pm in the Cooks Beach Hall), Tairua (on Monday, 25 October at 9:30am at the Tairua Golf Club) and Coromandel Town (on Saturday, 30 October at 1:00pm at the Coromandel Town Citizens Hall).

Pictured - The beach erosion at the Mercury Bay Boating Club in Whitianga.