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Letters to the Editor


I remember well, walking across from Picnic Bay to the sandspit, Picnic Bay began to get polluted and fishing boats had no safe way out to the sea. Then the big dig of 1990 and MHRS [Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society] was formed.

Kaipara District Council decided to take $40 every year from every Mangawhai ratepayer to fund MHRS, to help keep the harbour entrance open by regular maintenance dredging. In later years this amount was increased to $77.

MHRS is still getting our (your) money but is not using it to keep the entrance open. They use it to pull out mangroves, hire consultants and fight court battles - something that many Mangawhai people are not happy about.

By their own admission they have bought a dredge that is unable to do the job. How much of the $400,000 collected (from us) last year was used on dredging the lower harbour? Very little.

I see the dredge moored month after month, by the campground, not being used, whilst sand continues to build up the northern tip of the sandspit. It could be used all the winter months, rather than not using it then diverting our money to other pointless and damaging activities – activities that do nothing to keep the entrance open or the harbour clean.

Sell the dredge! And hire another that can do the job. Use ratepayer money for the purpose that was intended. Perhaps then the MHRS will see a renewed resurgence of support.

Christine Silvester


Dear Dr. Greenwood: For more than one year I have been trying to explain to you the differences between a ‘one pipe fits all’ waste water sewage system like the Mangawhai one, and a modern waste water treatment separation system.

It is interesting to me that you, as an important member of the Mangawhai Waste Water Extension Advisory Panel are not able, even after a whole year, to understand the differences.

When we mix the 50 litres of faeces and the 500 litres of urine (produced in one year by the average human) with more than ten thousand liters of grey water, separating it all out again in a treatment plant is expensive, difficult and always incomplete. This is what international experience shows. It is not theory Ian, it is the proven truth.

The alternative is to collect grey water, feaces and urine separately at the beginning, and keep them separate. Then each one can be treated on site, or in clusters or even centrally very easily, very cheaply and very efficiently without any risk of polluting the natural environment. This is increasingly becoming the accepted international mainstream approach.

You claim to be an international infrastructure expert. If you are, then you will know that it is completely unacceptable to use precious drinking water in huge quantities to dispose of human waste. Therefore, the proposed extension and mandatory connection to the Mangawhai ‘one pipe fits all’ treatment plant blocks modern solutions and is a crime against nature and against our purse.

It seems that you are the only person who cannot understand the issues. I have met no one else whose mind is so completely closed to these new and better ways to do things.

We don’t need to top up the EcoCare disaster. It's too expensive for the community and it is too dangerous to the environment.

Christian Simon


In response to the article [by Kaipara commissioner John Robertson] in last week’s focus entitled Council Land Sales Sometimes Necessary, we would like to make the following comments.

For those who have not read the article, the author was discussing the upcoming sale of three adjoining properties at Wharfedale Cr. The author wrongly described this block as unkempt. To the contrary, it is a significant ecological treasure that includes wetlands and an abundance of bird life. Not to mention a pristine stream containing aquatic life. It would be a great loss to the community if, as the author wants, this block was sold to a private buyer. The obvious outcome of privatising the block would be to prevent the public from enjoying it forever.

There is a clear solution to addressing the problem of the Council needing to raise money. The Council could sell the “reserve” at Roberts Road (as has been suggested in the past), as well as the flat land at the top of Wharfedale Cr that has been “adopted” by the landowner adjoining it. Neither piece of land has ecological significance. The land at Roberts Road is no more than a thoroughfare and not a particularly busy one at that.

This option is self-evidently better than that proposed in last week’s article. It allows the Council to raise much needed revenue while saving land of ecological and public value.

To further improve the block’s ecological and public value, we propose establishing a group of volunteers to clear away any current rubbish and weeds. This would require a minimal but ongoing commitment from a dedicated team of volunteers, which we would happily coordinate. The Council could assist by installing cameras to detect, and punish, anyone who illegally dumps rubbish at the site.

At present, most of those who have objected to selling the Roberts Rd reserve and Wharfedale Cr flat (“adopted”) land have been motivated by self-interest. But we cannot let greed stop us from saving a site of ecological significance, which is of importance not only to us, but also our children and grandchildren.

We cannot believe that we are the only people in Mangawhai who feel strongly about protecting the beautiful environment that we currently enjoy. We must act now before a small but vocal minority takes what is most precious from us. We cannot let the interests of the silent majority be stolen from us by a greedy few who don’t believe in public consultation or the interests of this community as a

whole. We must put this community and the environment first. If we lose this battle, it will be a bad sign of things to come.

Janene and Peter Jeffs


Dear [Kaipara Commissioner John Robertson]. You mention that there has been considerable correspondence in relation to the proposed sale of sections in Wharfedale Cr in the Mangawhai Focus. In addition I am aware of there being many other communications to the Kaipara Council and Barfoot & Thompson, most I suggest are totally against the sale of these properties.

The deep concern of Mangawhai residents should be very obvious and the fact that even a person from Wellington has felt the need to get involved only shows how strongly the Mangawhai and wider communities feels about your actions.

You state that councils sell land “for which they have no purpose”, but in this instance there has been no consultation with your constituents to see how they feel.

As to the growth of noxious weeds, a significant proportion of Mangawhai has these but as the Council are the owners of these sections this is really only a reflection on your management of these properties.

You are quite correct in the size of the wet area, which covers a significant proportion of the sites, the spring is a constant and provides a very significant water flow. Indeed I consider it to be a “significant indigenous wetland”. The steepness of the edges and the fact that it is a naturally formed waterway will always cause unavoidable additional run-off.

Now I come to the reason I reply. I admit that I am one of the villains who mow the small excavation-filled section in front of my property. We purchased the property just over a year ago (after the council advised me that this small section would never be able to be built on.) The previous owners had also done so for the 10-plus years of their ownership. You will have noted that we do not mow to the edge and are very careful due to the instability and subsidence on the site.

I must also admit that for around 20 years I have maintained the lower portion of one of the council walkways adjoining another property we own for the benefit of all who used it. This I considered was my civic duty but maybe I was wrong in this assumption.

Indeed I believe the Council, its advisors and Barfoot & Thompson may potentially be exposing themselves to considerable legal action far in excess of any potential value they may receive from a possible sale.

Your final paragraph does not answer the communities needs to retain the wetlands and native vegetation, indeed it places them at risk should someone purchase on the basis that the sites are indeed able to be developed for residential purposes. To say nothing of the risk the council may face.

John, I do not believe I am an unreasonable person, and this response was generated primarily by your references to us “adopting land” as if by us maintaining it we were acting illegally.

However there is always a solution and I believe there is one where the Council, the Community, NRA, conservationists, ecologists and us as neighbours can achieve a win win answer.

Ross Hinton

Everyone with at least half a brain knows why mangroves thrive in our harbour. We also know the hows and whys of their removal.

I believe its nothing to do with the environment and animal life and everything to do with land agents and property developers wanting to take drone shots of a beautiful blue sky and sparkling water harbour at high tide for those ever-important promo photos. A short term band-aid solution to a long-term problem.

As usual those who wave the big money stick will win and the mangroves will lose. Another case of many ratepayer contributions profiting a few.

John Sutcliffe

: In his letter to the editor last issue, Chris Sellars listed the interest rate on the $52m KDC loan at 5.6 percent. The correct figure should have been 5.26 percent.

I was approached in the Mangawhai Village and encouraged to sign a petition demanding the removal of mangroves from the Mangawhai Estuary. I've spotted the stinking wasteland from the causeway and am horrified at such vandalism.

The mangroves grow on, and stabilise, the silt washed down from farmland and developments. They provide a haven for birds and fish, a nursery for sea life. They are beautiful, leave them alone.

Karen Rennie
Lang Cove


Some years ago in Fiji, the major hotels removed all mangroves from Suva and the Coral Coast through to Nadi, resulting in flooding and serious depletion of sea and bird life. The local fishing industry was devastated. The Government was forced, with Korean aid, to replant.

Neena Buksh


It is disturbing to read expressed views in the recent spate of letters in The Focus relating to harbour maintenance, mangroves, EcoCare, sell the dredge, fraud etc, confirming impairment of function is alive and well in Mangawhai, meaning ‘ongoing residents and ratepayers failure to unite as one in the best interests of a developing Mangawhai.’

Where were these ‘experts’ when Mangawhai needed and was offered a sewage system back in 1978, today the hot topic pitting neighbour against neighbour holding back planning that would bring Mangawhai into the 21st century.

Over the past 65 years, four major events have changed the face of Mangawhai.

1. What changed: Rehab farming development in the 1950s trebled the rural population, the ensuing unintentional silt run-off created fertile growing conditions for mangroves, hitherto unseen.

2. How it changed: The golf course then quadrupled visitor and resident numbers, outgrew town planning and stretched infrastructure to the point of threatening Mangawhai’s pristine harbour.

3. Why it changed: The 1978 breach of the spit dumped thousands of cubic metres of sand on the bar before it choked up completely stagnating Picnic Bay until a united local rural community cried ‘enough.’

4. So the Big Dig started in February 1991, and supported by over 40 locals and machinery, stood up to DoC and Council officials set about to remedy the problem.

Mangawhai community owes a debt to the once united rural spirit, overruled today by the selfish ‘rest and recreation’ brigade whose only focus is entertainment… such is the sickening culture much of Mangawhai has become.

Dam off Insley St causeway for a recycled water plant or build a drawbridge and develop a Marsden Cove-style marina-cum-subdivision to re-ignite Mangawhai’s fading magical image.

Wake up Mangawhai. Its always going to be cheaper today than tomorrow.

Noel Paget

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