A Waikawa Identity: Gary Drake

This is the first social commentary in a series of Gary Drake’s memories.

It may be the South African flag that adorns Gary Drake’s residence at Waikawa Beach that captures ones attention; hung at a time of New Zealand rugby test matches, you get the feeling that this individual is happy to go against the trend and normal support of the NZ rugby supporters in the area.

Continue reading “A Waikawa Identity: Gary Drake”

Waikawa Beach A Favourite Holiday Destination For Levin Couple

There’s something magical about the beach area. (12 September 2006)

Tuesday September 12, 2006: Graham and Jan Taylor don’t have far to travel when they want to visit their favourite holiday spot.

The Levin couple’s holiday destination of choice is a short distance away at Waikawa Beach.

About ten years ago they bought a section with a garage on it at the beach area in Manga Pirau Street.

They thought about building on the land but decided against going through the hassles of getting resource consent.

Instead after subdividing their Levin farm block and selling off their herd of cows they invested in a bus which they had fitted out into a luxury mobile home they called the Stonycreek Xplora.

After stocking up on food and other provisions they drive the short distance to their plot of land and camp out for as long as they want.

Favourite visiting times are during the whitebaiting season or Christmas periods or simply whenever they feel the urge.

Mr Taylor said there was something magical about the beach area.

“It’s just so peaceful. It’s another world.”

He said very few people knew about Waikawa Beach until about five years ago when subdivisions started happening especially Strathnaver Glen.

“That gave it a lot more publicity and then there was another subdivision with Waikawa Heights.

“We’ve known about the area for years and started to go out there about 40 years ago.

“While more people are living there now there are times when there’s no one around and you’re the only one on the beach.”

Graham and Jan Taylor like to stay at Waikawa Beach in the comfort of their luxury motor home.
Graham and Jan Taylor like to stay at Waikawa Beach in the comfort of their luxury motor home.

Some of the couple’s favourite pastimes in the area include walking around the expansive beach area to casting whitebait nets.

“Our holidays vary from a couple of weeks to just a few days. It’s great because it’s handy enough to get out there anytime. It’s not a big trip away,” he said.

Mrs Taylor said Waikawa was a quiet laid back place.

“There’s no commercial area and not even a shop — but that doesn’t bother us. It’s part of the appeal.”

By DAVID HAXTON

Source: A Horowhenua-Kapiti Chronicle series celebrating all that is good about life in our region — Tuesday September 12, 2006

Many thanks to Linda Lambess for not only contributing this article from her archives, but also typing it up. See also A Jewel In The Crown.

Original article, September 12, 2006.
Original article, September 12, 2006. Click for larger version.

A Jewel In The Crown

Ike Miratana said the community was full of good people who were conscious of protecting the environment especially as it was one of five areas in the whole world that has got toheroas. (12 September 2006)

Tuesday September 12, 2006: Ike Miratana loves Waikawa Beach.

Walking around one of the jewels in Horowhenua’s geographical crown his eyes light up when discussing the many features that make the area so special.

His family own a dairy farm in the beach area supplying milk to Fonterra as well as growing pine trees.

They have another section of land which is used as a run-off block and could be opened for development at some stage.

Mr Miratana, from the local Ngati Wehiwehi iwi, said most people came to the area because it had a nice climate and it wasn’t overcrowded.

He reckoned the population was about 200-300 though many didn’t live there permanently and only came out in the weekends from cities like Wellington and Palmerston North.

Numbers in the area were growing especially with two new subdivisions sprouting up called Waikawa Heights and Strathnaver Glen.

One of the newest residents was former All Black skipper Tana Umaga who is having a house built at Strathnaver Glen.

Mr Miratana’s seen Umaga once or twice and good-naturedly described him as looking a bit like a hobo.

“He’s a dag. A hell of a nice bloke. You’d never pick him out as being the All Blacks captain. He’s really down to earth.”

He said the community was full of good people who were conscious of protecting the environment especially as it was one of five areas in the whole world that has got toheroas.

“Everyone is friendly and willing to help. There’s a good cross section of people living here.”

The area had a lot to offer for people especially those interested in the outdoors with a number of good walking tracks, excellent fishing, fantastic coastline and safe swimming areas.

Summer time saw many attracted to the area to relax along the coastline.

“Come here at Christmas time and you can’t move because there’s so many people here.”

And each year around February time Ngati Wehiwehi and Tu Koreke people would stay for a few days or more and canoe race at the water’s edge.

Ike Miratana says there’s a lot to like about Waikawa Beach. Photo by David Haxton.
Ike Miratana says there’s a lot to like about Waikawa Beach. Photo by David Haxton.

Resident Erica Wyatt said it was a nice tidy community with caring people.

She said it appealed because it was a quiet place with no shops and that not a lot of people knew about it.

“It’s the best kept secret in New Zealand and we want it to stay that way really.”

Before heading out for a run Mike Bentley, pictured, was asked what he liked about Waikawa Beach. Photo by David Haxton.
Before heading out for a run Mike Bentley, pictured, was asked what he liked about Waikawa Beach. Photo by David Haxton.

Before heading out for a run Mike Bentley, pictured, was asked what he liked about Waikawa Beach. He said the area was head and shoulders above other local seaside areas.

“It’s the best on the coast by far. It’s just different with its vast barren areas, beautiful beachline and great sand dunes.”

The local resident who rents and works in the area said it was great place to live and holiday.

FACT FILE:

  • Waikawa means bitter or sour water. Wai means water and kawa means bitter.
  • From 1821 to 1823 famous Maori chief Te Rauparaha leads NgatiToa migration to the Horowhenua which was then dominated by Muaupoko and Ngati Apa. Pa-Te Rauparaha was established along the Waikawa River.
  • In late 1840 Thomas and Mary Bevan and their six children leave England on the Lady Nugent for New Zealand. They arrive in Wellington in March 1841 without Mrs Bevan and a two year old son who both died while at sea. Mr Bevan sets up a homestead and rope making business in Waikawa in about 1844.
  • Thomas and Ceres Drake and their one-year-old daughter arrived in Wellington from England in January 1840 on the Aurora. Many years later from about 1875 one of their sons Arthur Drake settled into the old Bevan homestead and leased and then bought a large area of land at Waikawa Beach from the Ngati Wehiwehi and became the first European land owning farmer there.
  • In April 1888 the four masted iron barque Weatherfield got stranded on shore at Waikawa Beach. It wasn’t until October 1892 when it was finally refloated by diverting the river.
  • A German mine was washed up at Waikawa Beach during World War I in 1918. It was destroyed by the Royal New Zealand Navy in an explosion easily heard and felt in Otaki.
  • The road to Waikawa Beach from Manakau was metalled in 1920. It still follows the original track.
  • Electricity arrives in Waikawa Beach in 1956.
  • Waikawa Beach was used as a filming location for many episodes of Close to Home, part of a drama series called The Governor and was in a commercial where a car was catapulted from a large rubber band.
  • In 1982 a 50 tonne sperm whale was found dead on the shoreline at Waikawa Beach and had to be cut in two before it was shifted and buried in sand.

By DAVID HAXTON

Source: A Horowhenua-Kapiti Chronicle series celebrating all that is good about life in our region — Tuesday September 12, 2006

Many thanks to Linda Lambess for not only contributing this article from her archives, but also typing it up. See also Waikawa Beach A Favourite Holiday Destination For Levin Couple.

Original article, September 12, 2006.
Original article, September 12, 2006. Click for larger version.

Waikawa the way they want it

This Horowhenua Chronicle article from 04 October 1980 talks about how the 46 permanent residents like their peace and quiet.

Recently Lesley-Anne Walker found an old Horowhenua Chronicle article from 04 October 1980. Taking up nearly a full page, the article talks about how the 46 permanent residents enjoy their peace and quiet, but put up with holiday visitors.

Waikawa Beach residents — and there aren’t many of them — feel that during the week, the place belongs to them.

It’s a strange feeling wandering around the streets on a weekday, when house after house is empty and locked up and scarcely a soul is in sight.

But the permanent residents of this small beach settlement a few miles from Manakau choose to live there because it is so quiet. They are mainly retired couples.

Only 14 houses are permanently occupied.

The inhabitants are often asked whether they find it lonely — but none do. They see a difference between aloneness and loneliness.

See the original article in the images below.

Update: Linda Lambess kindly typed out the whole article for us. Many thanks Linda!

Waikawa the way they want it.

Waikawa Beach residents — and there aren’t many of them — feel that during the week, the place belongs to them.

It’s a strange feeling wandering around the streets on a week day, when house after house is empty and locked up and scarcely a soul is in sight.

But the permanent residents of this small beach settlement a few miles from Manakau choose to live there because it is so quiet. They are mainly retired couples.

Only 14 houses are permanently occupied.

The inhabitants are often asked whether they find it lonely — but none do. They see a difference between a lone-ness and loneliness.

With miles of beach to walk, gardens to tend, houses to maintain or renovate, and time to devote to any hobby they choose, they’re a contented lot.

These few permanents have to accept quite a change over holiday periods. In summer the population of the beach and surrounding area (46 in the last census) increases more than tenfold.

“We like it when the holiday makers come in but we don’t mind it when they go,” said Mrs Coralie Hurn.

Another resident admits disliking the summer influx of people.

But Waikawa beach is not another Waikanae — and that’s the last thing its residents would want.

Many of them have come from the Wellington-Hutt area and deliberately by-passed the more southern beaches in their search for a retirement.

Recreational

“This is the first decent beach out of Wellington that is purely recreational,” says Mr Howard Hurn, president of the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association. “Raumati, Paraparaumu and Waikanae are dormitory towns for wellington and retired permanents pay exorbitantly to live there.”

With more reasonable rates, and most of the facilities they need, the residents find freedom from the rat race — and that’s what most of them are after, Mr Hurn says.

The facilities at the beach no longer include a shop but for most locals this is not a problem. A trip to Levin or Otaki is an outing.

Now that petrol prices are higher, this is done less often and vegetable gardens and freezers come into the picture as money-saving devices.

The beach does have other amenities of concern to residents — water tanks for firefighting, rubbish bins on the beach front, street lighting (which has recently been supplemented), rubbish collection once a week, daily milk, paper and mail delivery.

Issues

The ratepayers association has taken up some of these issues with the rural district council, and gets full co-operation, according to Mr Hurn. The lack of a public telephone booth has been one issue that has seen no progress.

The phone box would serve in an emergency — Mr Hurn says there have been a number of fatalities over the years.

Immediate access to a phone is not always possible in the event of a swimming incident.

The association is a group of some 85 people, residents, “Weekenders” and some neighbouring farmers. The committee is active through the year, but the whole group only meets once a year.

Business is followed by a social gathering: a rare thing for the beach community, for the people prefer to “do their own thing”, in Mr Hurn’s words.

One continuing project is tree planting — and it was trees that got the association started. People were worried about erosion and loss of trees from the plantation on the sand dunes beside the Waikawa stream mouth.

They got together to put pressure on the Manawatu Catchment Board — but to no avail: Not enough money!

The association would like to see this land, which is still owned by the estate of the earliest farmer in the area, Mr Arthur Drake, made into a county or crown reserve.

The land is on the market, and one of the fears is that it could go into private hands. Mr Hurn says they’d hate to see that happen.

The land — which encases access to the beach via a bridge across the stream — is constantly used by the public.

Mr Hurn again: “It’s weathered a lot of invasion over the years and come up smiling.”

A rumour that Wellington trail bikers clubs could have the money to buy the land is not a welcome thought.

Farmlets

The Drake land was once a vast area of several thousand hectares. Much of it is now farmed in small units, but the 1974 subdivision for new housing came from original Drake land too.

This southern expanse of some 22 hectares is now dotted with the odd house, caravan, shed. Some sections are planted out with no sign of habitation yet.

Only 149 sections subdivided, some 30 remain and are released slowly. From a price range around the $2000 mark in 1975, $8000 is the current starting price.

There is a big demand for these sections, according to developer Mr R.I. Robertson. It’s one of the last places where sections are very close to a beach. Supply and demand will see prices rocketing in a few years, he reckons.

No Snobbery

But Mr Robertson says the idea is not to make the place exclusive. Interest rates are reasonable — although mostly, repayment are required in five years and deposits are five percent of the total. ‘

The growing trend is for working families to buy up build and settle, commuting to Levin or Otaki. A few are already doing this.

Three quarters of the purchasers intend using their sections as holiday places through, but could well settle later.

The ratepayers association, through it wants ‘quiet growth’, could be happy to see all these built on.

Growth has always been relatively quiet from the first staging house for coaches in the 1840’s to the first house by the beach itself in 1925, to the first holiday cottages in 1935: Which included Labour Minister Bob Semple’s holiday cottage. The beach was a retreat for a number of Labour ministers.

It’s thought that through Semple’s interest, the road and the power went through promptly after the opening of the settlement in the 1930’s.

But even in the late 1950’s there was only the one street, Drake Street.

Little threat

Growth has really only happened in the last ten years and does not seem likely to threaten the slow place and isolated way of life of the permanents.

2 Across the Waikawa stream and into the plantation that means of lot to the residents of Waikawa beach. Erosion has long been a concern — and the people want to see the land kept for public use.

3. Mown sections

Some planted out, some neglected, some with caravans, sheds or garages — with the dunes as a constant background. This is part of the scene in the slowly developing subdivision at Waikawa Beach.

1. Waikawa Beach: old and new. The small area near the top left of this aerial shot is the older established holiday homes and the stretch of developing subdivisions takes up the right half of the photograph.

Living in a sleepy hollow has its merits residents told staff reporter Ginny Lee when she went to look at Waikawa Beach into this the third of a series on Levin’s satellite communities. Mike Field took the pictures.

Report on road signs 2003

In March 2003 John Brown supplied this report on signs leading to and at Waikawa Beach.

WAIKAWA SIGNS

by John Brown, 2003

This is a report on the signs at Waikawa Beach and on the road leading to the beach.

Some are traffic signs and others give information about beach use and other facilities. Most have been erected by the District Council.

Some are not clearly visible because of their placement and others because they are obscured by tree growth etc. Some are hard to read because they are too small and others because they are in a poor state of repair.

The road signs are not consistent. Only two bends are marked with speed restrictions however there are 5 other dangerous bends covering a 4 kilometre stretch of road. The general notice for bends covers only 3 kilometres. The general notice may not be appropriate as there are some long straights between some of the bends.

Road bend signs.

Road bend signs.

One bad corner outside the 3 kilometre designated area is marked with a speed limit westbound but an incomplete sign eastbound.

Westbound Eastbound and rumble strips.

Westbound Eastbound and rumble strips.

The rumble strip sign is very small and seems unnecessary. If the purpose of the strips is to wake up the driver then the sign will not be seen until the strips are reached which is too late to read it.

The 50 kph sign on the left side of the road at the entrance is hidden behind a flax bush. The colour on the sign is fading and there is another small sign immediately below, which could cause distraction.

Flax hides the 50 Kph sign.

Flax hides the 50 Kph sign.

The recently installed hump in Sarah Street is very hard to see because of the limited paint area on the small hump. The signs from a distance of about 100 metres are hidden behind tree growth.

Sarah St speed bump.

Sarah Street speed bump.

Of the three signs at the entrance to Waikawa, one is hard to read because of the colouring, another has nothing on it and a third, which I believe is of sentimental or historical value, does not enhance the vision of a well maintained and orderly community.

Entry signs.

Entry signs.

The Hank Edwards sign is very good. Some may argue that it is not in the correct position and should be in front of the changing shed in Mangu Pirau Street.

The only other sign at the entrance to Waikawa indicates where the pavilion is but is small, a non standard colour and hidden behind a tree.

Pavilion sign.

Pavilion sign.

There are no signs to indicate beach access. The one at the southern end of Mangu Pirau Street says other things but gives no indication that it is a beach access.

Private property.

Private property.

There are 2 un-marked legal beach accesses further north in this street.

There are a collection of signs near the bridge. One is in a dirty condition. It gives no indication of the distance to the beach. I believe that this is also over private land or is there access around the northern riverbank.

Help preserve the beach.

Help preserve the beach.

Once over the bridge there are the remains of a number of signs, which do not say very much.

Signs across the bridge.

Signs across the bridge.

The only sign at the beach to indicate recent planting is falling apart however most of the replanting has disappeared also. It says pingao and spinifex has been planted however other signs name it marram grass, which is incorrect.

There are a number of fire signs and I do not know what message they convey and to whom.

Fire signs.

Fire signs.

The sign giving historic information is just after rounding a blind bend when eastbound. There are no speed restrictions and if cars are parked at the sign a dangerous situation exists.

Historic Waikawa.

Historic Waikawa.

Below are some examples of signs in other areas but which could be used in Waikawa

Slow down signs.

Slow down and other signs.

Recommendations

At 2.2 kilometres from main road junction a sign for winding road next 4 kilometres.

At 3 kilometre bend a speed restriction sign

At 3.55 kilometre bend a speed restriction sign

At 3.7 kilometre bend a speed restriction sign

At 3.9 kilometre bend a speed restriction sign

At 5.2 kilometre bend a speed restriction sign

At 5.7 kilometre bend a speed restriction sign

At 6 kilometre bend a speed restriction sign

The above signs should be repeated for eastbound traffic at the appropriate positions.

A distance to go sign at the main road junction

50 km restriction zone moved 100 metres east

New additional larger signs at present position of 50 km zone such as reduced speed in holiday season

Pedestrian sign — no footpaths at entrance

Make hump in Sarah Street more visible

Repaint “Waikawa Beach” a colour that stands out.

Remove blank sign.

Move the damaged brown Waikawa Beach sign to near bridge or even over the bridge.

One sign giving all the conditions for using Hank Edwards Park such as No overnight camping, no leaving rubbish, no fires except in designated barbeque area (is there one), no quad bikes in park, all dogs on leash.

All beach accesses marked

At all beach accesses, rules for that part of beach e.g. no dumping of any rubbish whatsoever, all dogs on leashes (if that is the rule and is enforceable), rules concerning toheroa, whitebait, flounder and other fish if necessary, sand dune protection advice.

Information about bird life in the area.

Widen road near historical information sign to allow safe parking.

The following was sent to all persons in the Wellington Regional Council area recently. It spells out the danger of dumping garden rubbish on sand dune areas.

Put weeds in their place.

Put weeds in their place.

We remember Irene Walker

This was first published in the Waikawa Beach Newsletter, November 2016:

The following obituary has been supplied by the Walker Family in memory of Irene Walker who passed away last week. [22 November 2016]

Irene Walker.

Irene Walker.

WAIKAWA’S OLDEST RESIDENT

On 1 August, Waikawa’s oldest resident, IRENE WALKER turned 100 years old and celebrated with a fantastic party at Tatum Park, where the then Mayor, Brendon Duffy, presented her with a letter from the Queen. She didn’t get home till 2am and loved every single minute of it.

Irene and George Walker bought one of the earliest sections to be subdivided off the Drake family farm in the late 50’s and which the family still own.

Those were the days when there was a gravel road from Manakau and farm gates to open and close on the way to the beach. Fresh milk was obtained from Drake’s milking shed which was situated close to the present start of the village and over the years they witnessed many changes at Waikawa Beach.

They retired to live here permanently in 1974 and being keen gardeners successfully grew show chrysanthemums for some years.

George suffered from emphysema and when quad bikes became available they bought one which then allowed them to go down to the beach white baiting which was another of their passions. In usual white baiting fashion, if you asked how many they caught the answer would always be “barely enough for a fritter” — never tell anyone what you actually caught!

Interestingly George never had a driving license so Irene did all the driving. Her family called her the ‘silver streak’ and she kept the license until her 100th birthday, but sensibly eased out of the driver’s seat after that.

Sadly, George died in 1987, but Irene remained at Waikawa developing an interest in art and pottery, being talented in both.

She still rode her quad bike but recently traded up to an automatic bike as she didn’t have the strength to change the gears.

Many people would see her going for her daily walk to keep fit and only these last couple of months did she slow down and needed more little rests which enabled her to stop for a chat.

She attributed her long life to being lucky with health, eating well — cream on her porridge, fat on the meat and getting out as many days as she could for fresh air and a walk.

She will now be walking with George who has been waiting patiently for 29 years.

She was a wonderful, vibrant, interesting woman and will be sadly missed by family and friends.