Hibiscus Matters letters - 5 February 2020

By: Hibiscus Matters readers

Board needs shake up

John Clements, Orewa
I see in the December 4, 2018 issue of Hibiscus Matters that the Local Board is prevaricating about opening workshops to the public. It’s an example of where the board misses out in its reluctance to engage properly with residents and ratepayers and the media. In the past few years only one board member met me occasionally to see what needed doing around Orewa. Two staff members told me they wouldn’t deal with me unless I changed my writing style. They ‘won’. I gave up bothering. Some time ago I asked to appear before the board and was allotted three minutes to speak. I declined the generous offer. For several years I have tried to get the Orewa Boulevard gardens and footpaths tidied up – they are still a shambles. There is far too little, if any, ‘management by walking about’ and far too much time spent in interminable meetings. It’s time for a change.

Heavy harvesting

Mark Lenton, Army Bay (abridged)
Mass harvesting of cockles at Okoromai Bay is an issue that concerns a large number of locals and those interested in preserving our marine ecosystem. For a while now there have been calls for increased controls. Those of us that are familiar with the area have noticed increasing numbers of people who ignore shellfish quotas, with a resulting deterioration in cockle quality and size. Numbers must easily exceed 1000 per day over summer, equating to 50,000 plus cockles harvested each day – clearly not sustainable. The quota of 50 cockles per person, clearly signposted, is circumnavigated by having grandma, grandpa and very young kids strolling the seabed without collecting, while others in the family simply decimate the area. As recently as five years ago, cockles averaged 4-5 cm in diameter and were plentiful. A quota of 50 could be collected within 15-20 minutes. The last few times I checked the area I found nothing larger than 2cm in diameter and it is these small cockles that are being excessively taken. I contacted MPI and last year called 0800 POACHER. I was informed that authorities were aware of the problem and were ‘actively’ monitoring the situation. I have noticed the odd checkpoint setup locally, but this harvesting is occurring every day. Are we simply going to let these seabeds die? More must be done to educate and patrol. There have been calls to impose a ban on harvesting and I support a 12-month ban every three years.

A Fisheries NZ spokesperson responds (abridged): Fisheries officers are aware that Okoromai Bay is popular for gathering cockles. We maintain a strong presence and conduct regular inspections to ensure gatherers are complying with the daily limit of 50 per person. There are signs in several languages explaining the rules. Our marine environment provides for New Zealanders’ livelihoods, recreation, and food. Fisheries NZ works to find a balance between those needs and the need to ensure our fisheries can continue to provide for us all into the future. 
The health of the shellfish beds at Okoromai Bay is monitored through the Northern North Island Shellfish survey programme. This programme looks at cockle and pipi populations to find out where the shellfish are, how many are there, and the size distribution. The last survey in Okoromai Bay, in 2017-18, showed an increase in the overall population of cockles although the number of large cockles (over 3cm) had declined. Okoromai will be surveyed again as part of the programme this summer and the results will inform whether management action may be needed. Only those who are actively involved in taking cockles are entitled to a daily limit of 50. Gatherers cannot collect for others in their group who do not participate in gathering shellfish. We appreciate hearing from anyone who sees any suspicious fishing activity and encourage people to call 0800

4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) to report it.

College creativity

Pamella Laird, Orewa
First, congratulations on your latest Hibiscus Matters edition, full of local interest and a great read. In particular I wish to congratulate Orewa College for their fascinating and impressive mural. It is not only attractive, it is ingenious and full of colourful significance. The use of bottle tops is a winner, combining the ‘tidy Kiwi’ belief with ‘reusable’ and in the mural’s case, adding texture. Well done guys, I hope we may see more such attractive art in a permanent ‘garden of art’ that can be placed where all may enjoy and applaud.

Reader David Abley of Orewa sent in this image, asking ‘when is a reserve actually a car park?’ He says when the area of Orewa Reserve that is sometimes used for overflow parking was closed by Council, vehicles simply parked on other parts of the reserve, restricting access for those on foot.
Council’s head of operational management and maintenance, Julie Pickering, responds: “In the past this part of Orewa Reserve has been used for overflow parking, however it has been deteriorating with the continual wear and tear from cars driving over it that resulted in poor grass growth. In an effort to restore this part of the reserve we have kept it locked, except on busy summer nights and some weekends when the local surf club unlocks it if extra parking is needed. We also kept it unlocked during the summer holiday period due to the influx of visitors wanting to use the beach and reserve. It was locked again following the end of the holiday period. At the same time a bollard further down the reserve was accidentally left unlocked and cars used the space for parking [on the area pictured]. We recently locked the bollard again. With the exception of the surf club sometimes using it on the weekends or on busy summer nights, the reserve will remain locked in an effort to restore the reserve.”
A number of readers have also commented on cars recently left parked on beaches such as Stanmore Bay while people picnic there. Driving on beaches other than Muriwai and Kariotahi is not permitted, except to launch or retrieve a boat or in emergency situations. No parking on beaches is permitted.


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