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Letters to the Editor

Sharing the cost of our mistakes

What a wonderful Informer it was last week…I rarely agree with everything said but last week was an exception. Plenty of gems from locals who have been around for a while and know just how our world and seas work.

As the lead article about the Boating Club said, “The climate is not the problem…”. Yes indeed, with our seas only rising at about 1.5mm per year in NZ the problem is, as Kim Lawry correctly pointed out, that we have flattened out the dunes along our coastline and then built often very expensive infrastructure and houses on this land, leaving no natural buffer from the ever-changing sea. The clear evidence from old dunes by the airport is that the beach was there only 4000 years ago and has been moving out in fits and starts ever since. If Jesus Christ had visited Whitianga, he would have found the beach near the present Mobil station. However, it is moving out on a grand geological scale with the tide coming ashore not twice a day but every century or two. Whitianga was built when this grand tide was out, now it may be coming back in for a few decades before moving out once again.

We have made the understandable mistake of building too close to the sea, so now we must deal with this manmade problem. As The Informer stated, this problem has been known to council since at least 1957 and we now know that clearly, rock walls work well; sandbags not so well. Rocks are a natural part of the NZ coastline and last a very long time; huge fibreglass or plastic sandbags will not. The bags near Ohuka Beach reserve were largely spared this time but suffered serious damage in the last big storm event whereas the existing rock wall did not. The choice seems clear.

Who should pay for the rocks? Both council and landowners risk losing their structures, so probably both should pay a share to protect the beach for us all. We do not need council at both district and regional level telling us what to do and continuing to put up endless bureaucratic obstacles and delays. They seem to forget they are there to do what the people want; not to tell us what to do! We want our beaches protected.

On another matter, I fully support correspondents Ady Cole-Ewen and Sandra Robinson with their comments about TCDC yet again producing their expensive, glossy and totally unnecessary ‘Our Coromandel’ Magazine. This latest edition is largely a magazine about a magazine and is a complete waste of council staff time and resources. In addition, it unfairly steals business and revenue from other private businesses in the region who produce their own magazines. The events of the last month have shown where council’s priorities should lie and it is doing things we need, not producing things we don’t. Council needs to stick to its core business, not become a publicity agency for its own work.

Alastair Brickell


Evidence of what works

The article in last weeks Informer by Kim Lawry states that the planting of sea grasses on the dunes does not stop erosion. So why do it’s the dune does not self repair but gets washed away in the next major storm as we can now see. A six-year-old child will tell you that if you build sand castles just below the high tide mark and put sticks and plants on the top of them, it will get washed away at the next high tide. Do not procrastinate but be proactive in saving our shorelines and reserves. Stop paying thousands of dollars to so called experts to express their views. I have over 50 years of direct involvement of coastal erosion and shifting sand in Whitianga and I cost nothing to tell you the only thing that works -

1) Rock wall placed slip slap (immediate stop of erosion).

2) Place netted rock groynes out on an angle (helps replace sand).

3) Let nature take its course to work its magic.

4) This is what happened when the Esplanade was damaged in 1987. Thirty-five years later, nature worked its wonder as shown in the two photos in last week’s The Informer. The groynes would be two metres under the reserve now.

Peter Grant


The truth was told and shared!

Whitianga was built on a swamp

When my family and I came to Mercury Bay in the early 1980’s to buy a business, we had no idea that the town of Whitianga was built on a swamp.

We soon discovered that the flat area of the town was only two metres above sea level, extending from The Esplanade, Buffalo Beach to the airfield and the southern entrance to town. Our naivety as new business owners was quickly reinforced with some of the biggest storms and cyclones to hit the country in the early 1980’s – especially Bola. In our time some of the earlier residents were proactive in various aspects of beach erosion with groynes placed along the wharf area to the Esplanade and Buffalo Beach. Another initiative was to dredge the harbour to control silt build up in the basin.

Any improvements made to the erosion issue have been dashed by bureaucratic government legislation on their new Coastal Erosion Policy brought out in the 1990’s preventing the use of rocks and groynes. (in my personal research is one of the very few countries in the world who do not recommend rocks and groynes).

After the recent storms and the devastation to the area in front of the Mercury Bay Boating Club, we must, as responsible citizens, support our committed people and groups.

Noel S. Hewlett


Re Three Waters proposal From what I see and hear, the backbone of the opposition to the Government’s Three Waters proposal is mainly formed by members of the rural sector. This was clearly visible when driving through rural Waikato where many farm gates are fitted with signs showing opposition to the Three Waters proposal. I have to admit that I do not know enough about the proposal to be able to form an opinion, but I am wondering what the rural opposition is based on. How many of the people in the rural sector are connected to any of these by their local authority operated potable water, storm water and sewage services? How can you claim a loss of assets if you have not contributed to those assets through a development contribution? Are they claiming ownership of something they do not own? I am afraid that politics in our country are going the way it is in the USA: Is that your proposal? Then I am automatically against, without looking into it, because you are not my party. Hans Apers Whitianga

No consultation on Spat Farm.

Further to Helen Vivian's letter last week, I also was deeply concerned about the devastation that would have most definitely occurred if the Council - consented spat farm had already been in place.

The infrastructure, more suited to the calm and protected waters of the Firth of Thames, would have stood ‘no chance’ with the wild conditions experienced.

There is a reason why mussel farms have always been banned on the East Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. Along with the environmental issues, the fact remains that the east coast is wide open to all the violence the sea can throw at us. And it just has, and will again, and again.

Joe Davis and Peter Bull are responsible for pushing this unwanted and environmentally unfriendly commercial enterprise through against the 95% of our residents and supporters who submitted against it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by Save Mercury Bay fighting for a case that should never have been considered for a Resource Consent by Council from the time of its conception.

This is another case of ‘Money talks and Good Sense Walks’. There was never any public consultation offered or allowed on this seriously contentious issue. This would be a perfect time for some leadership and investigation from our Mayor and Council before this ‘disaster waiting to happen’ is put in place.

It’s time we all stood up for the protection of Mercury Bay.

Ady Cole-Ewen



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