Councils should clean cities not beaches


We rent in Whangaparaoa and have experienced up close and personal massive dumps of seaweed on the beach after big storms. Sometimes it can take weeks for all the seaweed to be reclaimed by the sea so there is a strong smell of decomposing seaweed. This is not a big deal. In fact, people turn up with buckets and trailers to claim as much of it as they can for their gardens.


Mystery craft washed up PHOTO-Whaleoil

We don’t just get dumps of seaweed we also get mystery craft washing up and massive logs and boards and all kinds of flotsam and jetsam. Once a huge Mussel buoy washed up. It is all part of the fun of living at the beach. On top of that after heavy weather sections of the nearby cliff collapse and down comes rocks, dirt and trees.

Large Tree that came down when part of the cliff collapsed after heavy weather PHOTO-Whaleoil

As far as we are concerned it is all part of nature and we leave nature to it. Given enough time the sea always reclaims the seaweed and the trees and the rocks. It is a process as old as time but not everyone thinks like us.

 …Takapuna’s showcase – and usually pristine – beach got a massive dumping of seaweed last week during a strong easterly swell, leaving the shoreline a lumpy, sand hopper-ridden, rotting mess.

Some vocal residents want it gone; moved as it has been in previous years by the Council. But in these tougher times, the Council is balking at the $30,000 to $50,000 per clean-up cost – especially when it could be back next week as more rough weather hits.

…Resident Geoff Bonham says the seaweed is a “jolly nuisance”. “I’ve been on at the council for five years to buy a beach cleaning machine,” he says, claiming he’s only been met by excuses and bureaucracy.

“Takapuna would be the most popular beach in Auckland – on Saturdays and Sundays over a thousand people would be walking on the beach. If it was cleaned it would look magnificent.” Bonham says eventually a front loader will be brought down to shift it, but by then it will be stinking and covered in flies.

“They’re not exactly Speedy Gonzales.”

…”There are always people moaning and whinging about seaweed and the sand hoppers that live in it,” he says.

“Council officers have said that in about three days the tide usually comes in and takes it away. But this time it’s come in on a pretty big swell and left it high and dry. It’s a pretty difficult problem for council to try and wrestle with. It’s an endless job and it’s unpredictable as to when it comes in. Getting rid of it ain’t easy.”

…Wood’s feedback from residents is split between people who believe this is all a first world problem, about a natural phenomenon; and angry North Shore residents who’ve seen their rates rocket since the Super City was formed, and who say their area is getting less attention than it did before the amalgamation.

“Wait till it gets washed off Takapuna and blown onto Mission Bay Beach and it will be cleaned up in a flash,” said one resident – who struck a nerve, as the eastern beaches do have a beach cleaning machine. However, they are dry sand beaches where the sand has been shipped in from Pakiri, so they won’t work at Takapuna.

“At Takapuna we will probably let nature take its course,” says Auckland Council’s head of operations management and maintenance, Agnes McCormack.

…Some other local boards in Auckland, particularly on the West Coast, are anti-grooming for ecological reasons.

“A lot of people accept that there is seaweed on the beach because it is a beach … it’s not like overflowing rubbish bins.”

…North Shore councillor Richard Hills says the seaweed is a sign of a healthy beach and a good ecosystem and it is a natural occurrence.

He points out you could carry out an operation one day and the next week a similar amount could be washed up and it would have to be done all over again…


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