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Through the Portal

Beauty in Blocks and Stone Walls

I understand that there are many parts of our coast where nature is dominant. These can be seen in rocky coastlines – wild, wind-swept beaches, large sand hills and so on.
 |  Trevor Ammundsen  | 
We went out for lunch the other day to the new restaurant, Basker, by The Waterways in Whitianga; one of the great new additions to our hospitality venues that have sprung up in the last few months. We arrived at the time they were closing the brunch menu and preparing for lunch and dinner, so we had to patiently drink some bubbles while waiting for the kitchen to prepare. We were onto the third glass when I started gazing at the scene outside and thinking about the practical beauty that was presented. The view outside is dominated by a canal, winding through elegant suburbs and offering boat mooring to homeowners. It was all very neat, tidy, and practical with the significant asset, that ensured all was kept as it should, being the stone wall that retained both banks of the canal.   The stone wall ensures that canal front property values are retained, protecting properties from erosion and nature events while enabling a neat and tidy appearance to be maintained – human craftmanship and nature combined in partnership. I understand that there are many parts of our coast where nature is dominant. These can be seen in rocky coastlines – wild, wind-swept beaches, large sand hills and so on. Such areas are magnificent, and I suspect we all enjoy them, as either active users of such wild areas or as passive observers. The point is that both wild and human-shaped nature has a part to play in our lives and communities, it is not one or the other.   An obvious extension of these thoughts goes to our waterfront on Buffalo Beach Road,                                                                                         whereby it is felt by many that a block wall along the entire length will provide the neighbouring area with the stability, protection, and tidiness that the block walls provide to The Waterways. Some parts of this area have been protected by road transport in the past. New Zealand transport built the existing wall to protect the road that was then a state highway. Due to the status changes of the road, this is unlikely to happen in the future. Attempts have been made to protect other areas using such tactics as gardening or dune planting; a tactic favoured by environmental groups who feel that planting grasses will protect us from nature. This doesn’t seem to work very well.   A block wall would enable the entire beach area to be tidied up, much like our current reserve is. For example, the Taputapuatea Spit could be planted in grasses and mown, with access being given to enable people to drive on the reserve for various recreational purposes. Most of the wild sown unwanted shrubs and scrubby small trees could be removed, thereby opening the vista of the Bay for all. There is the issue of those pesky birds that take up a corner near the stream outlet but perhaps a sign facing up, so it can be read from the sky, reading “Dotterels Go Home”, would do the trick.   The stream mouth is a constant cost to the TCDC maintenance team, but a wall could help lower their maintenance requirements and costs significantly by having a smaller wall incorporated through the stream. This wall would in effect be a weir (a low dam) that would control the stream level, provide a consistent lagoon recreational area behind it, and keep the sea at bay during high tide.   Last year, at a meeting at the Mercury Bay Bowling Club, the Mayor stated that “Whitianga could have a wall, subject to budget constraints.” I am not sure how the TCDC are progressing with this, but it would appear to me that the construction cost will be significantly offset by a reduction in ongoing maintenance costs, better facilities, and usage of the beach area as well as offering protection to the property owners in the vicinity. Shouldn’t be too hard to justify it should it?   Caption: Section of Brophy’s  Beach – well-constructed sandbags did not keep back the ocean.