Recipe for disaster
There are more than a few gaps in Noel Paget's slanted account of harbour spit erosion and unchecked man-made erosion of a level not experienced here before if the removal of any more mangroves takes place in the upper harbour.
The proposed rock groin concept Noel has raised concerned Mangawhai surfers in the past when it was raised by others before Noel's time. Surfers claim it could wreck one of the best areas for surfing. This may or may not be the case but if Mangawhai were to have some sort of break water it would be cheaper to use the artificial sustained reef.
Noel's concept is for the traditional two groin breakwater with an entry channel between them at right angles to the foreshore that would in effect create a short canal from the harbour to the open sea. In contrast, the proposal for the artificial sustainable reef is that it would be built off-shore parallel to the harbour foreshore, and like a coral reef would create calm water on the landward side just as a coral reef does.
The worst erosion of the sand spill is entirely man made and caused by the establishment of a ski lane parallel with the bund wall. Wash from water ski boats has washed more than a few feet of sand off the inner harbour side of the bund wall every year. The solution: ban water skiing from that area and seek a new area possibly up near Tern Point where there would be less of a problem.
If the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society (MHRS) was fool enough to remove all remaining mangroves it would be a recipe for disaster. The fetch (distance between the mangroves at Back Bay and across the water lining the forshore of the Bull farm and Tern Point) would be greatly increased and could allow massive inundation by the sea of the two lowest land areas bordering the harbour. The most eroded areas of the upper harbour are at Moirs point and from the Mangawhai Hotel right around to Kainui Road where there are no mangroves. The MHRS should carefully check on its legal liability for any damage before considering this matter.
Finally, there are more than a few problems associated with any plan to dredge a channel to the upper harbour. Number one is a large patch of submerged rocks in the old channl area that would require dynamite to remove. In many places the hard pan is close to the surface of the harbour bed and dredging there could only be accomplished by a cutter suction type dredge and not a suction dredge like the Spirit of Mangawhai.
All of these things which Noel refers to cost a heap of money and expose the MHRS to a level of legal liability that many ratepayers who fund the MHRS don't want to go to.
I was pleased to read Annie Kitchener’s letter commending the Scouts on their recent roadside clean-up in Kaiwaka and Mangawhai. And I agree that the whole of Mangawhai, as she outlined, also needs regular attention.
I joined her initiative a couple of years back under the Let's Keep NZ Beautiful banner and collected litter along Molesworth Drive. It was most disheartening, though, to see how much more litter had been jettisoned from cars or blown from vehicles and building sites just a couple of weeks later.
Yes, more rubbish bins, of adequate size, around our streets may help. But it seems that the residents are the ones to keep Mangawhai clean, as the council obviously does not have such a scheme. I would be willing to assist again, and also support Annie’s suggestion for the Scouts fundraiser.
Ticking boxes or QA?
After eight months of work, the commissioner-appointed Mangawhai Harbour Water Quality Advisory Panel have still not provided any information about the parameters they are using to carry out their testing program. It is a mystery as to why they go to the pains of explaining their methodology (the way in which they test water quality to ascertain the background of nutrient and bacterial pollution in Mangawhai Harbour) but at the same time neglect to explain why a large part of the harbour remains untested.
Their sampling stations only test water quality upstream from the Molesworth Drive and Insley/Tomarata Causeway bridges. A third of the catchment area is not covered. This includes half of the Village, the Heads, Estuary Estate, the whole Riverside Campground and Tern Point Community. No relevant data is collected concerning these areas using the testing spots selected. It is equally concerning that the testing program is only going to run for six months which is not enough to provide data on the fluctuations that occur over the course of a whole year.
The Mangawhai Community Planning Group have drawn up a map of the distinct catchment areas feeding into the Mangawhai Harbour with suggestions on locations for additional testing sites and handed this information over to the Council and to the Advisory Panel but we have been rebuffed.
Are the Commissioners serious about maintaining good water quality in the harbour or are they content to be seen going through the motions, ticking boxes. Hopefully the soon-to-be-elected Council will be more thorough in its approach.
Modern day politics
The Editor of the Focus described the Winston Peters entertainment at the Golf Club five weeks ago very well: a show about nothing. But Winston Peters made one point. Political decisions should be made in three steps: First collect all information; second discuss all options; third make a decision.
The Kaipara District Council seem to do it the other way round. First make a decision, second select people for an advisory panel, third search for a couple of arguments to back the decision already made.
This was the way with the Waste Water Advisory panel. That is the way with the Mangawhai Harbour Water Quality project. And now, at the end of his time, after many subdivisions have been approved, Commissioner John Robertson has announced the founding of a Town Plan Advisory Panel to manage growth.
With Winston's three step process in mind the Mangawhai Community Planning Group are actively putting together ideas and are seeking input from the community. Please contact the liaison officer to give the group some input at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kaipara Commissioner John Robertson responds:
I refute Mr Scothern's assertions that decisions have been made in the form of a town plan for Mangawhai. Rather, a decision by Council to undertake significant town planning work has been made – budgets have been allocated to begin the work, information on its various components is being gathered, and a community panel will be established by Council to work through issues and options and then help guide the process.
Community members who have interest in being a member of the panel and who can add experience and/or expertise to the subject matter are invited to contact Commissioner Robertson, email@example.com.