Here’s the submission the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association sent in to Horowhenua District Council in March 2018 on the:
Horowhenua District Council Long-term Plan 2018-38
Horowhenua District Council Growth Strategy 2040
Who we are: Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association, formed in 1974.
Who we represent: Residents and Ratepayers of Waikawa Beach, both members (approx 100) and non-members of the Association.
The basis for this submission:
- online survey (86 responses)
- a public meeting organised by us and held at the Manakau hall, with approx 58 people present
- comments on articles on our website (16 people)
- emails to the Association (7 people, some also representing other people)
- personal experiences from years, sometimes decades, visiting or living at Waikawa Beach.
We wish to speak to this submission at any hearings.
- online survey comments
The Nature of our Community
Waikawa Beach is a small rural coastal settlement with a small but seemingly growing number of permanent residents and a large number of sporadically occupied holiday homes and baches.
We are literally at the end of the road, with only one way in and out, along Waikawa Beach Road to SH1.
There is a strong sense of community: many residents and frequent visitors know one another and enjoy a shared history with the beach. Some visitors have been coming here for decades, often starting when they were children and continuing as adults.
People here enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside and beach, the dark skies, and being close to nature. Many enjoy fishing, whitebaiting, walking or horse riding on the beach, swimming and other outdoor pursuits. We enjoy a somewhat self-sufficient way of life, though the towns of Levin and Ōtaki are within easy reach for those who have a vehicle.
Historically this area has sometimes been known as Manakau Beach, which speaks to its popularity and importance to those beyond the village on the coast. Visitors enjoy Waikawa Beach for its unique nature as a quiet coastal village.
With no shops, cafes or other similar facilities, people come here to rest, relax, refresh and enjoy time away from towns and all their roads and urban activities.
Many residents have come to Waikawa Beach precisely because of the kind of lifestyle it currently offers.
There is a small turnover of properties. In the last few years properties on the Strathnaver side and around Emma Drive which previously languished unsold have changed hands and there has been a small building spurt, with around 10 or 20 new houses erected recently.
The area is very rural — many properties have farmland as their neighbour or within easy view from the house.
The beach itself is home to a great deal of birdlife, including seasonal visitors such as Royal Spoonbills and Godwits. Many birds breed here or nearby and there is a healthy proportion of hawks, frogs, insects such as dragonflies and other assorted wildlife.
The Geography of Waikawa Beach
Some of the houses in the village lie alongside the river, with others by the estuary. We have only a handful of streets and lanes, including those on the Strathnaver side.
On the Strathnaver side there are houses adjacent to farmland along Strathnaver Drive, with most of the others on either side of Reay Mackay Grove which runs parallel to the coast. Houses are on the first, second and third tiers of dunes. Most have dunes between them and the sea, but one fairly recent build is right beside the sea and river.
All along the coast there is erosion in bad storms, such as those we often have in mid-winter, but also storms such as ex Tropical Cyclone Gita. In general, apart from storm damage, the dunes are accreting on the Strathnaver side, but erosion from wind, river floods and high tides as well as storms is severely impacting the area around the river mouth. This erosion is one of our biggest concerns.
The quality of the water in the Waikawa River has deteriorated over the years. Routine summer monitoring by Horizons Regional Council shows frequent high E. Coli counts. This is another matter of grave concern to us.
People at Waikawa Beach are very concerned about the negative effects of climate change already evident and predicted for the future.
OUR RESPONSE TO THE LONG-TERM PLAN
We are opposed to bringing water, sewage and stormwater infrastructure to Waikawa Beach.
“I fell in love with a tranquil village on bore and tank water, self sufficient, respecting the landscape and being gentle on the dunes.” — an emailed comment.
- Everyone who owns or uses a property at Waikawa Beach already provides for their own drinking water. Most have installed rainwater storage tanks, while a few may use a bore. Some use both. Similarly, apart from a few rarely-used caravans and tiny baches, all have septic tanks or composting toilets.
- Approximately 85% (73 people) of the respondents to our online survey selected Option 1: no additional services. 10% (9 people) were in favour of Option 2, while less than 5% (4 people) favoured Option 3.
- 100% of the website and email comments to the Association opposed the Council’s plans to provide Water and Sewage Infrastructure to Waikawa Beach.
“We love Waikawa because it is small, laid back, friendly, casual, and basic so we’d be against anything that would threaten its nature.” — Ella & Ty Kahu [address removed]
Comments on our website included questions and concerns about:
- the national strategy for “managed retreat from the coast”. It makes no sense to build new settlement or invest in expensive water and sewage systems at the coast. Options 2 and 3 completely contradict that strategy.
- the possible negative effects of climate change on roads, properties, infrastructure, and even the habitability of Waikawa Beach in the long-term. Coastal erosion and coastal inundation are an ever more imminent threat and make this settlement unsuitable for long term growth.
- as a coastal village, based beside a river, we are vulnerable to tsunami.
- whether property owners would be compelled to connect to such new infrastructure and at what cost.
- the redundancy of providing such infrastructure when most landowners have already installed their own water and sewage provisions at considerable expense.
- the ability of the Council to guarantee sufficient supply of sufficiently high quality water given the existing problems with boil notices and water restrictions.
- concern because Council should be encouraging dwellings to be self-sufficient and resilient in capturing rainwater and dealing with sewage, rather than discouraging those efforts.
- Waikawa Beach’s population increases dramatically when there are public holidays, especially over summer. That would mean increased demand here exactly when water restrictions are often in place in Levin and settlements the Council already supplies with water.
- concern that Council have identified that property developers want the infrastructure in order to make more sales. The infrastructure has not been requested by residents and ratepayers. Respondents believe that ratepayers should not be subsidising property developers.
- new infrastructure would attract more people (indeed that’s the stated reason from the Council for providing the infrastructure). Residents and visitors alike love the ‘sleepy’ nature of Waikawa Beach, as the quote from Ella & Ty Kahu above makes clear.
- the Horowhenua District Council’s debt levels and that the level of debt needs to increase in order to go ahead with new infrastructure for Waikawa Beach (and other settlements).
- the cost of additional plant required to support increased infrastructure.
- the rates increases required by new infrastructure.
- the disruption caused by installing new infrastructure.
- will there be effluent ponds at Waikawa Beach? This is a concern for several reasons, including health and smell and the effect on groundwater.
- single-source systems only need one point of failure (eg a tree knocking out a water main) to severely affect everyone. Individual systems mean only one person is affected by a single failure.
- where would stormwater run-off go? Our streams and waterways are already contaminated.
- insufficient detail in the Council’s infrastructure plans.
OUR RESPONSE TO THE GROWTH STRATEGY
The Horowhenua District Council proposes rezoning land around Waikawa Beach for residential purposes.
We are opposed to such rezoning and to any deliberate attempt to grow the population at Waikawa Beach.
“I have been coming to Waikawa Beach for some 6 decades, now. It is a very special place for me. It has always been a place to escape from bustling humanity: cities; traffic; curbs; unnecessary road markings; street lights; shops and all the trappings of busy modern life.” — an emailed comment.
- As a coastal area Waikawa Beach is already suffering erosion from wind, wave, river and storm. It seems inappropriate to encourage population growth at the coast when known risk factors are predicted to escalate with climate change.
- Much of the land proposed for rezoning is subject to frequent ponding and flooding. Those who live at Waikawa Beach have seen it first-hand, and all too often. The predicted rising tides and increase in rainfall accompanying climate change will make ponding and flooding worse and make more land vulnerable with a greater volume of water in the river.
- Some proposed areas are sited on historic swamp or watercourses, such as from Lake Huritini.
- There is a known history of pre-European occupation in this area, but little to no work has been done in discovering or protecting sites of historic interest. Some of the land suggested for rezoning appears to coincide with the locations of middens, as shown on the G. Leslie Adkin map IV, at http://horowhenua.kete.net.nz/en/site/topics/2487-horowhenua-its-maori-place-names-and-their-topographic-and-historical-background
- Adding a further 63 houses to Waikawa Beach would destroy its character as a quiet retreat from the world. There has already been an uptake in the number of sections sold on the Strathnaver side, and around Emma Drive, just east of Waikawa Beach bounds. Further growth could take place nearby, but further inland, as a separate self-contained and self-sufficient settlement, away from the areas susceptible to flooding.
- Waikawa Beach has few permanent residents and a larger number of holiday homes. It’s popular as a holiday home location. Adding another 63 housing lots may contribute little to a future need for permanent housing. Its location close to Wellington will likely simply bring an increase in holiday homes.
- Waikawa Beach road is barely adequate for existing traffic. While building takes place there would be a considerable increase in heavy traffic and trades vehicles. Once building is complete there would be additional vehicles for both residents and their visitors. Will Waikawa Beach Road be upgraded to handle this? Such an increase in traffic and upgrade would detract from the character of Waikawa Beach as a quiet retreat from a busy world.
- Additional houses would require additional roading within the area, together with streetlights and other lights, reducing land and water habitat for the local wildlife and threatening our dark skies.
- It’s worth noting that an attempt a decade ago to rezone an area by the village to residential also ran into issues with waterlogged land being unsuitable for housing.
Specific feedback to the questions posed
The purpose of the draft Horowhenua Growth Strategy 2040 is to establish clear, effective direction for the integrated management of the district’s growth over time.
- Do you think we’ve got it right?
- What are the outcomes you think could result from this strategy? What do you like about the strategy?
- What would you change?
Our members have indicated that they feel Waikawa Beach is unsuitable as a location for growing the population. They suggest the Council should be looking at:
- building resilience by encouraging existing and new houses where possible to be self-sufficient with drinking water and sewage disposal.
- a better focus on dealing with climate change.
- creating new inland settlements with their own character which are not prone to the climate change events and increasing costs associated with coastal settlements.
- helping to control erosion and inundation.
- improving the quality of water in our river.
- helping sort out a permanent vehicle access to Waikawa Beach.
- ensuring current services, such as the public toilets are properly maintained and repaired.
- assisting with good transport connections to other places such as Levin and Wellington.
- preserving the environment and wildlife.
- ensuring roading in and around Waikawa Beach is maintained to Local Bylaws and LTSA Standards.
1] Map from https://whenuaviz.landcareresearch.co.nz/place/76618 . These ‘historic’ swamp lands (in brown) are very evidently still swamp, as we see whenever there’s plenty of rain.
2] Map: shows flood hazard area (in green) encompasses much of the rezoning proposal and a good proportion of Waikawa Beach Road.
3] Photo: This and nearby paddocks in the historic swamp area of Strathnaver Drive was underwater for months in 2017. Photo: July 2017. The puddle stretched most of the way or all across the road for months and connected with drowned paddocks across the road.
4] Photo: this lake appeared in the paddocks at the east end of Uxbridge Terrace and stayed for months in mid-2017. Photo: September 2017.
5] Photo: Waikawa Beach aerial photo from 1965. Compared with current Google Maps (below), it shows how much sand has eroded in the last 50 years.
6] Photo / map: this is a current Google Map of Waikawa Beach (before Ex TC Gita eroded more land). I overlaid it at the same scale on the 1965 aerial photo and drew lines to highlight the differences. Note how the river has moved south and a large area of dunes has disappeared.
Survey report and Comments, March 2018
The Council wants to hear feedback on the need for reticulated drinking water systems, wastewater networks and rezoning land at Waikawa Beach. They have stated in their plan they prefer option 2 of the following three options: Which of these do you prefer?
The council are projecting that more people will want to move to Waikawa Beach and have mapped out potential areas for residential. growth as in the map below. Are you in favour of this land being rezoned for residential growth? Please select all that apply.
Do you have concerns about the following?