Selfish and sometimes illegal actions by a few have endangered vehicle access to the beach for all. One consequence has been that the owners of the private land which allows vehicles sometime access to the beach has asked Horowhenua District Council to place concrete bollards at the end of Manga Pirau Street.
Those bollards were placed early on 04 January 2024.
In the past the landowners have advised that if people do unauthorised works on their land they may block all access.
On 29 September 2023 the vehicle entrance across the private land at the end of Manga Pirau Street was cut off again by wind and tide.
On 16 December 2023 Horowhenua District Council advised (please read the full item at the link):
The direction provided by Council is to consult with the community on a permanent vehicular beach access, and that is our intent. Horowhenua District Council will not be pursuing any work related to a temporary beach access.
Meanwhile the landowners
agreed to the establishment of a temporary access provided the work is undertaken by HDC and not by anyone else. HDC agreed to this but need to gain a resource consent before any work can be done.
The messaging before the Christmas break was clear:
- the beach access for vehicles is temporarily closed while the Consultation process initiated by the Petition in November 2021 runs its required course. A chain was put across the access, with a sign advising it was closed.
- only HDC has permission from the private landowner to undertake any works at the beach access. Their works require resource consent.
- no-one else is to take matters into their own hands and make changes to the privately owned land.
Recently a local removed the chain blocking access and also worked on an existing narrow pedestrian track on the private land, widening it to allow vehicles through. This was both illegal because they were shaping land that didn’t belong to them without permission, but also wrong-headed because the advice from HDC to the community was: don’t do anything.
Someone has also sawed off a post on one of the pedestrian-only tracks off Reay Mackay Grove, and created a vehicle track down to the beach across public land. All without permission and in spite of the clearly visible sign at the start of the track that says No Vehicles.
These actions are unlikely to encourage Horowhenua District Councillors to agree to spend very scarce funds on vehicle access. Every such attempt to create a way for vehicles to get on to the beach at the moment also moves public opinion further towards the option of having no access at all.
Some members of the community have been acting in ways that are illegal, inconsiderate, selfish and extremely ill-advised.
The concrete bollards will keep out most vehicles while allowing pedestrian access to the beach.
The Police were given evidence about the illegal use of the Reay Mackay Grove track and are sure to follow up.
The HDC Consultation on beach access for vehicles closes 20 February 2024.
Once consultation closes the usual process would be for Council officers to collate responses, do some kind of assessment, provide the information to Councillors. Councillors will then consider the options and public opinions. They will weigh matters of policy, competing claims on HDC funding, laws and regulations, the general philosophy of how they think beaches should be used and ways the public should be able to access beaches, views of tangata whenua, and whatever feedback the landowner has provided.
Other organisations such as Horizons Regional Council and Department of Conservation may have also provided opinions, along with organisations representing horse riders, the environment, people with disabilities and others.
Ultimately we can expect that the Councillors will arrive at a decision and provide officers with a path to action.