New fences on Reay Mackay Grove and Manga Pirau Street

Fencing and bollards at the entrance to the pedestrian track.
The new street end entrance to the pedestrian track at 60 Reay Mackay Grove.

In May 2024 Horowhenua District Council took action on some problems created by vehicles accessing the beach through pedestrian-only walkways and to protect private land where the owners no longer granted access across their property. See the HDC letter quoted below.

The pedestrian-only access at 10 Reay Mackay Grove already had bollards across the street end but the number and density of bollards was increased so quads and larger vehicles couldn't pass between them or round the ends.

A row of bollards.

Further south, at 60 Reay Mackay Grove, the problems with vehicles had been persistent since around December 2023. See Destruction on the south beach track off Reay Mackay Grove, Pedestrian Access Only tracks to the beach and Safety issues on track to the beach.

Contractors did a lot of work on this track to secure it as a pedestrian-only track: extra bollards have been installed and an 8-strand wire fence has been put in along the north side.

The intention was to create enough space for someone with perhaps a pushchair or trolley to pass through, but quads and larger vehicles have insufficient room.

Wire and batten fence beside the track.
Extra bollards across the track beside the fence.

HDC letter about beach access, 24 May 2024:

… we have taken measures to address unauthorised vehicle access. A fence was installed on Council-owned land to prevent further damage to pedestrian walkways caused by unauthorized 4x4 vehicles. Additionally, a fence was erected along the boundary line at the former vehicle access point on Manga Pirau Street to protect the landowner’s private property.

The fence at the beach end of Manga Pirau Street demonstrably means business: 1.8 metres of solid wood, with a gate that the land owners can choose to lock. A Private Property No Public Access sign beside the gate clarifies that on the other side is private land.

Tall wooden fence with gate.
The new fence at the beach end of Manga Pirau Street.

This fence is a blow to the community, but has come about in part because a few members of the community persisted in creating and driving along new tracks across the private land without the owners permission and in spite of numerous requests dating back to at least 2018 for them to respect the land. While the owners were still allowing vehicle access until recently, they asked that people not create new tracks, yet that was still happening.

This disrespect was particularly evident in 2018 when someone cut a new track across the land without bothering to consult the owner. See Vehicle access to the beach, April 2018.

Our vehicle access has been through private land and is entirely at the whim of the owner who has been kind enough to let us use that corner of the property. With this latest act of appropriation though the owner has let us know they are considering revoking all access. The owners are very upset with this rogue action.

The HDC has every right, and in fact an obligation, to protect the properties it is in charge of. The new bollards and fences to protect pedestrian-only walkways show them exercising their obligations in the face of ongoing disrespect and damage.

Similarly, the private landowners have every right to protect their property and to decide how it is used. Their generosity towards and tolerance for the wider Waikawa Beach community were enormous, but they clearly reached their breaking point.

While vehicles can no longer access the sand directly from Waikawa Beach they can still drive onto a beach from Ōtaki or Hōkio. Tracks show that vehicles are still readily coming onto the sands of Waikawa Beach from points south, as is their right.

Meanwhile pedestrians have 4 options to access the beach: one north of the river and 3 south. See Pedestrian access onto Waikawa Beach as at May 2024.

Map shows pedestrian access points.

Fences across the beach access aren’t that new. On several of the many occasions when access was disrupted by the weather a temporary fence was put up. This one, for example, was from March 2012 — Beach access fenced:

Red fabric fence across the beach access with a sign reading Road Closed.

Life was simpler then.

Waikawa News @WaikawaNews