A look at housing numbers at Waikawa Beach

The Council wants to add 63 new housing lots to Waikawa Beach. Its discussions with landowners, land developers, estate agents and other interested parties have made it clear developers don’t want to pay for infrastructure so that cost will be passed to ratepayers.

Land use zone areas - Waikawa Beach.

There are approximately 340 properties at Waikawa Beach, counting those you can reach after the speed sign at the entrance to the village. That excludes any reached by turning off Waikawa Beach Road before the village entrance. Here’s a map showing the properties, made from screenshots from the Horowhenua District Council’s online map. Click the map for a larger version. It shows the fairly dense residential area in the village and the bigger sections in the Strathnaver area.

Properties at Waikawa Beach.
Properties at Waikawa Beach.

Almost all the sections in the village have been built on. In the last 3 years or so there’s been a huge upswing in Strathnaver sections being sold and houses built. There are now very few sections anywhere left for sale, and a couple of them turn into lakes in prolonged wet weather anyway.

Every year a handful of properties in the village or nearby change hands.

It’s hard to assess how many people live here full-time, but a good guess would be between 150 and 200. See Will the Waikawa Beach population grow in the next 20 years? for more on this and a link to Stats NZ maps. The upcoming Census should be able to give us better figures by the end of 2018.

The Growth Plan

Horowhenua’s population has recently been growing more quickly than it used to. The Council now need to plan for future growth. The plan reckons on:

an additional 5,138 households, and 10,063 additional people by 2040.

This information is contained in the Draft Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040, 3 MB PDF.

It’s a document worth reading. Below I’ve drawn out portions of particular note.

The Council aims to spread the newcomers around, but believes the southern parts of the region will be most favoured, in part because of the new roads. The document includes maps and plans for various areas, including Waikawa Beach, where the Council believes 63 houses could be added — perhaps around 120 people (based on the approximate 2 people per household figure above). This could nearly double the number of people living here.

Flaws in the plan

On re-reading the Plan and compiling the extracts below a few things became obvious:

  1. The Council consulted with landowners, land developers, real estate agents and others who have an interest in attracting buyers, and in selling land. It didn’t consult in that way with residents and ratepayers of the area. It has drawn up the Plan based in part on what it heard from that interest group, not on what the residents and ratepayers might have said if they’d had the same opportunity.
  2. The Council wants to supply infrastructure at a big cost to ratepayers because the developers don’t want to pay those costs (see Page 23 of the Draft Plan).
  3. The Council talks about maintaining character while suggesting developments that are likely to destroy and seriously damage character.
  4. The Council talks about avoiding risks such as areas likely to flooding, erosion, tsunami. Those are three risks that are prominent around Waikawa Beach.
  5. An interesting question is whether the new houses will serve as homes for the new population, or simply be bought up for more holiday homes. (See Page 11 about holiday homes.)

Extracts from the Draft Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040

Here are some general comments about the whole of Horowhenua —

Page 5:

the impact on existing neighbourhoods needs to be managed, and [we must ensure] that transport connectivity from new areas to services and amenities is good.

Page 10:

The median age in Horowhenua is 46 compared to New Zealand as a whole which is 38 years of age.

Page 11:

There was a 30% increase in the number of unoccupied dwellings between 2001 and 2013, largely attributed to demand for holiday homes or second homes in beach settlements where people reside primarily during weekends and the summer months. This seasonal fluctuation of people living in the beach communities is not necessarily reflected in the available population statistics.

Page 12:

the projections to 2040 adopted by Council equate to an additional 9,200 people with an additional 5,377 dwellings.

Then we start to get to some specifics for individual settlements. In this post we look only at Waikawa Beach.

Land use zone areas - Waikawa Beach.
Land use zone areas – Waikawa Beach.

Page 14, Table 10: District-wide Residential Zones Land Area:

  • Waikawa Beach total residential land area: 21 hectares. Available: 2 hectares.
  • Waikawa Beach total Greenbelt residential land area: 25 hectares. Available: 21 hectares.

Note: 1 hectare = 10,000 square metres.

Page 17, Table 11 — Waikawa Beach number of houses required:

  • residential: 24.
  • greenbelt: 39.

Page 17, Table 12 — Waikawa Beach minimum lot size:

  • residential: 800 square metres.
  • greenbelt: 5,000 square metres.

Page 18:

urban growth can modify the established character of settlements that are cherished by the community.

Page 19:

The distribution of some projected growth in the beach communities in the southern part of the District (which are closer to Wellington) can also be anticipated if the highway generates increased accessibility.

Consideration will need to be given in the longer term to ensuring that the need for travel on strategic roads is reduced. This could be through the provision of community facilities, public spaces and shops in development areas, off the main highway, or construction of link roads that enable local traffic to move without using the State Highway network.

Note here the suggestion of introducing shops to development areas.

Page 20:

There is the potential to service expanded settlements with additional bores and extended reticulated systems. However, with increasing demand for groundwater from a range of users, water conservation initiatives also need to be considered. The costs of providing increase reticulation is an issue for the district.


An issue for settlements without wastewater infrastructure will be their capacity to accommodate any additional growth without sufficient lots sizes to enable onsite treatments (eg tanks and soakage). In addition, the cumulative impact of a number of on- site treatment and disposal systems on the quality of groundwater and surface water.

Page 21:

Greater consideration of the effects of climate change on sea levels and the effects on coastal areas including estuaries and river mouths will be required in considering further development at coastal settlements. Similarly more intense rainfall events can be expected which requires consideration for managing stormwater and also river flood hazard.


there is no coverage of archaeological sites (Māori and European) identified by the District Plan. As a starting point, data from the NZ Archaeological Association will be used as a guide to the likely presence of archaeological sites. However, a cautionary approach to new development areas needs to be taken to recognise potential for the presence of sites not yet formally identified.

We need to remember that this area has a rich history of both Māori and European settlement before the 1950s.

The Council consulted with landowners, surveyors, real estate advisors and land developers (Page 22).

Page 23:

The consultation has identified some deterrents to current landowners proceeding with enabling their land to be urbanised.


The costs to undertake subdivision and provide for infrastructure such as roads, services reticulation and its connection to the existing system.


Feedback from the consultation with landowners has informed the proposed growth areas that form part of the community consultation.

Page 24:

7.1 Growth Management Principles — 7.1.1 Settlement Principles

  • Avoid areas of development where there are high risks from hazards and recognise the effects of sea level rise.
  • Maintain the ‘village’ character of smaller settlements (e.g. Tokomaru, Ōhau, and Manakau).
  • Maintain the ‘beach’ character of coastal settlements (e.g. Waitārere, Hōkio and Waikawa Beaches).

Page 25:

7.1.5 Infrastructure Principles

  • In non-reticulated areas, adopt best practice solutions for on-site disposal of wastewater and the supply of portable water.

Page 27:

Protect the natural character of the coastal environment by limiting the expansion of settlements. Most of the coastal environment is to be retained in its natural state and/or primary production focus.

Page 31, Table 14: Development Area Assessment Criteria:

Some areas are potentially subject to natural hazards which provide significant risks associated with occupation of the land. These effects cannot easily be mitigated, so growth areas that avoid them are favoured over those that are affected. The influence of climate change on the nature of these hazards also needs to be considered.

Page 39 focuses on Waikawa Beach:

The growth scenario projects that Waikawa Beach will need to accommodate an additional 24 houses within the Residential Zone and 39 houses within the Greenbelt Residential Zone.

Capacity calculation results for Waikawa Beach indicate that there will be a shortfall of residential zoned land for both the Residential Zone and Greenbelt Residential Zone.

Figure 11 shows two options, WB1 and WB2, that would provide sufficient land (see Table 17) to accommodate the projected demand in both Residential and Greenbelt Residential land, as well as providing additional capacity in the event that demand was higher than projected. In identifying these options, land that is subject to flooding or ponding has been avoided.

Residential capacity.
Residential capacity.

Page 56 talks about the current status of Waikawa Beach:

Waikawa Beach is a small coastal settlement which has developed incrementally in a manner which is typical for older coastal settlements where bach or holiday homes are the predominant residences.

Recent development of a lower rural-residential density has occurred to the south of the settlement. The urban area has extended along the eastern side of the Waikawa Stream.

Growth issues

  • Limited available vacant Residential Zone land
  • Increasing demand for residential development
  • No defined central point for local purposes
  • No reticulated infrastructure
  • Some areas surrounding the urban area are subject to natural hazard risks (ponding, flooding, tsunami, wind erosion).

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