Our good old river

How might we get the Waikawa Stream back to being clean and swimmable?

We know that the Waikawa Stream isn’t as clean as it used to be (The river runs red), and many of us have our suspicions about why that might be, though we lack the data to confirm the sources of the problem.

Water quality at the footbridge, summer 2016-2017.
Water quality at the footbridge, summer 2016-2017.

The article Troubled Waters in the New Zealand Geographic is a long and careful look at contamination in New Zealand rivers and makes many very interesting points. I suggest you set aside half an hour and read it.

The conclusion of the article is particularly interesting and gives us some useful ideas:

Young believes that correct diagnosis coupled with professional support can lead not just to an immediate improvement in river health but long-term benefits in preventive care. In the Sherry River catchment, for example, the shock of landowners and residents at finding their beloved stream was, in fact, a microbial health hazard galvanised the community to form a catchment group.

Cattle crossings were bridged, leading to a 50 per cent improvement in water quality. Five kilometres of waterways were fenced, and 4000 trees, shrubs and grasses planted in riparian margins. Multiple other measures to control run-off and limit soil erosion were implemented, leading to the group receiving environmental awards in 2009 and 2013.

The community’s enthusiasm for their local river had another benefit: they published their story as a case history. Others can now refer to this “medical literature” and learn from the Sherry River experience.

Sometimes now the Waikawa stream is not swimmable. Next we need to know why and then we can start working on the changes needed to get it back to the safe and fun river so many have enjoyed over the years.

Boat Day 2012.
Boat Day 2012.

Can you help ID these Honesty box burglars?

Can you help identify a couple of guys who broke into the honesty box at Manna Milk up in North Manakau?

Manna Milk are at 48 Martins Road, Manakau, (off North Manakau Road). At the gate they have an honesty box.

Manna Milk honesty box burglars.
Manna Milk honesty box burglars.

Recently though a couple of guys spent quite a while breaking into that honesty box, and now the owners hope we can help identify the culprits.

They have a couple of videos on their Facebook page, and say:

Do you recognise this person or vehicle?

At approximately 5am on Monday 3/7/17 our security cameras recorded this man attempting to steal our honesty box at Manna Milk.

If you have any information that could help us identify this person or vehicle please send us a message or call us on 06 3626826. Alternatively you can call the Levin Police Station on 06 3660500.

30 minutes after the failed attempt to steal our honesty box at Manna Milk, the same man and an accomplice return to try their luck again…


…After a failed attempt to break in to the box with an axe the previous night, they have returned with a saw and a mallet to try again. They eventually popped the lid for their ample loot of $20-$30.

Any idea who these idiots are?

Ōtaki to north of Levin roadway, Manakau meeting 02 July 2017

Feedback on the Ōtaki to north of Levin roading project is now welcome until Friday 7 July 2017.

There is still time to have your say online about the Ōtaki to north of Levin roading project at www.O2NL.nzta.govt.nz until Friday 7 July 2017. There is also a meeting at Manakau on Sunday. Additional Community Engagement Events says:

We have had a fantastic response to the Ōtaki to north of Levin project, and over 1000 people have attended various events and meetings so far throughout June.

Due to requests from local communities several additional events are now planned, and we have extended our feedback timeframe to Friday 7 July 2017. …

Event: Manakau Community Meeting

Location: Manakau Community Hall, 12 Mokena Kohere Street, Manakau

Date: Sunday 2 July

Time: 10am – 12pm

Project area: Otaki to north of Levin project area.
Project area: Otaki to north of Levin project area.

Garden bird survey 2017 needs your help

An hour counting birds in the garden is a pleasant activity for a winter’s day.

One of the delights of Waikawa Beach is the birdlife, not only on the beach itself, but in the gardens. There are magpies, of course, but also hawks, yellowhammers, tui, piwakawaka, swallows, kingfishers and loads of others.

Ringnecked dove.
Ringnecked dove.

In the last week of June each year people are asked to give a single hour of their time to help count the birds in their gardens.

Landcare Research says:

Why count for 1 hour only?

We want everybody to count for the same length time. One hour was chosen as a length of time that many people can manage. We’d rather have more people watch for 1 hour than fewer people watch for a longer time. In 1 hour you won’t record all the species or all the birds that visit your particular garden, but if enough people do the survey we will get a good picture of the average numbers of birds of all species that visit the average garden. In other words, birds that are not in your garden will be in somebody else’s garden. So please encourage your neighbours to do the survey as well!

In 2017 the Garden Bird Survey is on from 24 June to 02 July. It’s easy to do and the website has plenty to help you with it. So, how about spending an hour looking at the garden? It’s for science.


Changes in NZ Garden Bird counts for 16 common garden birds in the Manawatu-Wanganui region for the period 2007 to 2016:

Changes in NZ Garden Bird counts for 16 common garden birds in the Manawatu-Wanganui region for the period 2007 to 2016.
Changes in NZ Garden Bird counts for 16 common garden birds in the Manawatu-Wanganui region for the period 2007 to 2016.

Have your say on local health services

Some residents of Waikawa Beach I’ve chatted with recently are concerned about health services in this area.

MidCentral District Health Board Well Communities.
MidCentral District Health Board Well Communities.

In June 2017 the MidCentral District Health Board are currently consulting with the community and would like your input in public meetings and via an online Survey & Prize Draw:

MidCentral DHB are currently in the process of developing Health and Wellbeing Plans for the Horowhenua and Otaki, Manawatu District and the Tararua District and we want your input. The following survey will take 10-15 minutes and you can enter in a draw for one of four New World vouchers.

Note: All surveys need to be completed before the 24 June 2017.

June 2017 newsletter


June 2017 Newsletter

Hi everyone

Here we are half way through 2017 and have just had our first frost. Brrr. Lovely sunrise though, highlighting the snow-capped peaks of the Tararuas, and start looking for views of Ruapehu, Taranaki and Tapuae-O-Uenuku from the beach.

Have you paid your subs this year? Bounce to the end of the newsletter for info on how to pay.

In this newsletter …

  1. Wet summer
  2. Garage Sale proceeds
  3. Water quality concern
  4. Ōtaki to north of Levin 4 lane expressway consultation
  5. Property sales
  6. Logging
  7. Beach erosion & submission to Council
  8. Erosion by the footbridge
  9. Bike bars at the bridge
  10. Vehicle access to beach
  11. New shingle on some roads
  12. Dogs & horses
  13. Neighbourhood Support group
  14. Website updates
  15. Signage
  16. Did you know?
  17. Handout for new residents
  18. Please pay your Subs
  19. Committee meetings in 2017
  20. Committee changes

Wet summer

As the person in charge of mowing grass at our place I can definitively say it was a great growing season: wet and warm (though not hot). My personal weather station shows we had 528.1 mm rain in the last complete 6 months. Compare that with the Waikawa Beach weather station, where my sums tell me they registered 235.6 mm in the same period the previous season.

You can see the results along Strathnaver Drive where a couple of lakes have spontaneously appeared and families of ducks have moved in. (See below for more on this.) While the lakes have ebbed slightly in a couple of drier weeks, the least sprinkle of rain fills them up again. One local told me he’s never seen the water table so high in the decade or so that he’s been here.

Our thanks go to Maree for running the local weather station, where you can also find out about temperature, wind, tides and other handy information.

Garage sale proceeds

The Walker Family would like to say a big thank you to all who came to the Garage sale over the Easter weekend — it was greatly appreciated.

We want to let everyone know that the full proceeds of the sale are going to be donated to the Otaki Pottery Club where Irene was an honorary life member. The money will go towards encouraging young people from this area in the Horowhenua to learn pottery.

It is lovely for us to know that so much of Irene’s pottery, art and bits and pieces are staying here at Waikawa Beach. She would be very happy.

Water quality concern

Horizons test the river each week over summer for E. coli. See the results. They use a simple traffic light system as a quick indicator of results: green is Acceptable quality, while orange and red signify an Alert or Unacceptable.

Over the 2016–2017 season the results were a bit alarming, especially when you compare them with results for the river east of SH1. In short, of the 26 weekly samples by the footbridge, the status was Green only 11 times. Up at the North Manakau Road testing site they took 22 samples, of which 19 were Green.

They also take samples at the beach, a bit north of the river outflow, where the status is most commonly Green.

Details at The river runs red.

Blue water by the footbridge.
Blue water by the footbridge.

Ōtaki to north of Levin 4 lane expressway consultation

NZ Transport Agency are starting work on developing a new a 4 lane expressway, between Peka Peka and north of Levin. As this will go past Waikawa Beach, it’s something we need to keep an eye on. The Committee will be discussing this, but individuals can attend consultation events in June 2017 and make submissions too. Full details are at the O2NL Project page.

Property sales

Over summer several places went on the market and sold pretty quickly, while some of the sections that had been available on the Strathnaver side for a long time were snapped up. A building site is being marked out on Manga Pirau Street, and it looks like James Street may get a new building before long too.

Take a stroll down Emma Drive to Kristin Place and you’ll spot several new houses in various stages of build.

Meanwhile there are houses popping (or popped) up along Strathnaver Drive, Reay Mackay Grove and Uxbridge Terrace. Concrete trucks, diggers and trades vans are all around.

Welcome to all our new residents and visitors!


In the second half of last year the forest behind Reay Mackay Grove was cut down. Now there’s logging going on at the end of Amelia Way, off Emma Drive. They’re circled on the map below.

Recent logging sites.
Recent logging sites.

Beach erosion & submission to Council

The Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association, plus a resident most affected, made a submission about coastal erosion and river control methods to the Horowhenua District Council on 16 March 2017 as part of the Annual Plan 2017–18 submissions. An interim draft response has been proposed by the Council suggesting a meeting between the parties most affected in an attempt to develop a resolution. The problem is that the properties beside the vehicle entrance are eroding badly — in one case you can see a boundary fence hanging in mid-air because the land beneath has gone. River cuts made in past years do not achieve the desired result of protecting these properties.

Erosion by the footbridge

Between the footbridge and the boat ramp is a small slope. All the rains were having an effect and washing it away. Once the Council were alerted to this they quickly came in with some plantings to help stabilise things.

Bike bars at the bridge

With ongoing concerns about vehicles in the sand dunes north of the river the chain across the footbridge was removed and new style bike bars were concreted in. There was a bit of concern about whether firefighters would be able to get their equipment across if needed, but apparently that’s not an issue. See photos and leave your comments about the bars at Keeping the peace, with bike bars.

Check out Fire at Waikawa December 2007 for photos showing the difficulties of fighting a fire north of the footbridge.

Bike bars at the footbridge.
Bike bars at the footbridge.

Vehicle access to beach

Access to the beach will remain through the Miritana Block in the near future. If the family indicate they may subdivide the land the WBRA committee will be forced to develop beach access through between numbers 47 and 49 Manga Pirau Street.

New shingle on some roads

In February contractors reshingled most of Reay Mackay Grove, along with Duncan and Cathryn Streets. We weren’t very happy with the job they did though and are following up about shingle on the grass verges, in the gutters and blocking the drainage sumps.

Dogs & horses

The village and the beach are popular places for dogs and horses. Drivers: please slow past horses and give them a wide berth. Dog and horse owners: you’re responsible by law for making sure your animal is under control at all times, and for picking up their droppings. If you’re riding a horse on the tracks to the beach please make sure to clear away any droppings from the tracks.

There’s been some feedback and concern lately about dogs wandering, and being a nuisance or aggressive. The Horowhenua Dog Control Policy and Practice Annual Report 2015-16, showed that Waikawa Beach had one dangerous and one menacing dog — luckily not as many as in some places, but even one is too many.

Dangerous and menacing dogs in Waikawa Beach 2015 to 2016.
Dangerous and menacing dogs in Waikawa Beach 2015 to 2016.

As of May 2017 though, the official word is: There are currently no menacing or dangerous dogs registered in Waikawa Beach. The 1 recorded dog in last year’s report died late last year.

In addition, Waikawa Beach Complaints from 01 January 2017 to late May 2017:

  • Wandering: 4
  • Attacks: 5
  • Miscellaneous requests of Animal Control: 4

If a dog is bothering you, contact Animal Control, (06) 366 0999, ideally with photos ready of the animal as positive identification.

Neighbourhood Support group

A steering group has been established and some street coordinators are being organised. Given the links between Neighbourhood Support and Civil Defence we are also investigating how to deal with future changes to the beach.

Website updates

Miraz Jordan has taken over looking after the Association’s website, moving it from its previous hosting which was courtesy of Mike Brown. We’d like to thank both John Brown and his son Mike for their years of work on and support of the website. John added material to the site as appropriate and handled the comments left by visitors. Mike made the hosting available free and made sure the domain name bills were paid.

The site was first created in 2005 and contains much valuable information, including old photos, newsletters and information about both Waikawa Beach and the Association.

We’re aiming to make more frequent updates to the site as things happen. Did you know you can get the new items emailed to you as they’re published? Visit waikawabeach.org.nz and look on the right-hand side for the signup box.

We’re gradually updating the design of the website too and would like to thank Rodney Inteman for allowing us to use his gorgeous sunset photo.


The signage for the defibrillator has been upgraded and there is now a kerbside double-sided sign immediately opposite the defibrillator on the toilet block wall.

Signs have also been installed on Manga Pirau Street immediately before the Hank Edwards Reserve alerting drivers to the presence of children.

Did you know?

If you look at the Historic Wetlands layer on the map at Landcare Research, you’ll see that most of Waikawa Beach used to be swamp, especially south and east of the village. In particular, the area just east of Strathnaver Drive was swamp, including the paddocks that are now under water. No wonder the recent rains have turned several paddocks into ponds.

Historic swamp areas.
Historic swamp areas.

Handout for new residents

The last newsletter mentioned a possible handout with info for new residents. The committee will be discussing a draft of this at their June meeting. If there’s anything you wish someone had told you when you first came to Waikawa Beach, please let us know. Email wbra.committee@gmail.com . It’s also good to introduce yourself to new neighbours, and please suggest they visit the Ratepayers website, waikawabeach.org.nz .

Please pay your Subs

Subs are $25 per year and due now. Pay online via your bank to account 03 0667 0268929 000. Make sure to include your name and beach address.

If you prefer to pay by cheque, then send it to E White, PO Box 30309, Lower Hutt 5040, with your name and beach address. Not sure if you’ve paid? Email Kevin Burns, Secretary, at wbra.committee@gmail.com .

Did you know your subs help pay for regular lawnmowing around the entrance, and other incidental expenses?

Committee meetings in 2017

Because there are several committee members who are not permanent residents, committee meetings are held on public holidays eg. Easter, Queens Birthday and Labour Day unless there is urgent business when a special meeting would be called. Arrangements for the Christmas events, AGM etc will be organised at the Labour Day Meeting. At present all meetings are held on Sunday mornings.

The AGM is held in December.

Committee changes and activity

In April 2017 Julie Stichbury resigned from the committee after a good run of 6 years or so. We’d like to thank Julie for the good work she has done for our community in keeping us informed both in writing and with photos since Erica Wyatt ceased being our secretary at the end of 2010.

In May 2017 Miraz Jordan was brought on to the Committee, and volunteered for the website work and to manage the newsletter. Miraz lives on the Strathnaver side, and has been living here fulltime since December 2015.

John Hewitson was invited to attend and address the AGM of the Manakau District Community Association on Tuesday 16 May 2017 and was able to speak on subjects such as our problem with dogs etc.


If you have something to contribute then please either email the Committee at wbra.committee@gmail.com , or visit the Contact page, where you can make a public comment.

With best wishes for a safe and serene winter,
Miraz Jordan, with contributions from John Hewitson, Chair, Kevin Brown (Secretary) and Lesley-Anne Walker, Committee member.