Beach Bylaw Workshop November 2023 — report

Beach bylaw background slide.

On 01 November 2023 HDC Councillors attended a 'Proposed Beach Bylaw' workshop. The public were able to attend, but not to ask questions or make comments. The roughly 1 hour Workshop was held at Foxton and so was not live-streamed.

I attended and have asked for a PDF of the slides but haven't yet received that.

Update, 19 November 2023: Beach Bylaw presentation Council workshop 1 November 2023 (1.6 MB PDF).

Summary: officers had prepared some background material for Councillors about a possible Beach Bylaw for Horowhenua.

Councillors spent some time discussing whether or not a Beach Bylaw should be drafted. Ultimately they decided that a Beach Bylaw should be shelved for some unassigned future date. In the meantime, issues that had contributed to the desire for a Beach Bylaw could be addressed by beefing up the Public Places Bylaw, which includes beaches.

Horowhenua District Council Public Places Bylaw 2016 (7 MB PDF).

Some of the Māori landholding near some of the Horowhenua coastline.
Some of the Māori landholding near some of the Horowhenua coastline.

My brief notes from the discussion included these points raised by Councillors, in no particular order:

  • different areas (beaches) require different treatments.
  • ownership: is not well-defined in some places — some landowners may own land all the way to the sea; does HDC have authority to put bylaws across the whole district? Some ongoing Treaty claims include issues around ownership of beach land in Horowhenua.
  • recreation: want to ensure people can continue to connect with and engage with the environment; an aversion to putting constraints on people doing recreation; want to ensure the principles of available access to the beach are upheld; not in favour of no-vehicle policy; social fabric built on access to coastline.
  • vehicles: vehicles may be required in order to access certain more remote areas; 4x4 Club are encouraging good behaviour; motorbikes are causing damage; at Foxton Beach some people's lives have been put at risk by foolhardy driving; dunes at Foxton Beach is sometimes a stock car track; 98% of people are responsible and respectful and look after environment; only 2% are amateur motocross community who are acting illegally anyway with unregistered and unwarranted vehicles; 'boofheads' are destroying dunes; some vehicles are already breaking existing law about beach is a road; comes down to enforcement — bylaw needs teeth that bite.
  • other problems: issue around spreading ashes in public spaces, also cultural considerations; rubbish left behind; unsocial behaviour has affected communities; a long-standing problem with desecration of dunes via problematic behaviour.
  • other comments: coastal areas are a bottom line for Māori; dune gardening is in process in some places; greater protection of RAMSAR area; safety; climate resilience considerations.

Dealing with issues:

  • what is DoC's role?
  • coastal education in schools; it's a lot about education
  • where do Police fit into enforcement? is Policing the basic issue? Police can use a Bylaw to underpin enforcement; engaging with stakeholders such as Police; discussing with Police;
  • needs partnership with iwi; consultation; various agencies must be involved
  • is increased resourcing needed?
  • if it's a narrow issue why not amend Public Places Bylaw?

Several Councillors expressed the urgency for dealing with issues at Waitārere and Foxton Beaches in particular.

My thought on that urgency is that we also have problems with 'boofheads' at Waikawa Beach. I have a concern that if other beaches clamp down somehow on 'boofheads' and manage to expel them then Waikawa Beach will become a magnet for them. I expressed that concern privately to Sean Hester who ran the presentation.

Trailbikes gouge the fragile dunes, August 2017.

I'll write separately about the Public Places Bylaw.

Miraz Jordan @WaikawaNews