Local News

Politicians show disrespect for volunteers in Piha

1 Comment 26 September 2014

Waitakere Ranges Local Board

Waitakere Ranges Local Board

At the Waitakere Ranges Local Board meeting last night a resolution was carried that included  “Any future proposals for planting on the [Piha Beach] dunes will need the prior approval of the local board.”

The Board ‘received’ the Review and Proposed Management Plan for the dunes on Piha Beach.

Let’s get a few facts on the table:



  1. There are thousands and thousands of tonnes of sand moving up the west coast of the north island.  Some, but not all, has already arrived in Piha – there is more to come.   This is a natural process.
  2. Water is stronger than sand.
  3. Piha CoastCare Trust has had an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with with Council forever !
  4. Volunteers work for the environment not for politicians

The debate:   ‘(A Team) Planting dunes has caused accretion at Piha Beach resulting in the loss of the surf break’   vs.  ‘(B Team) Movement of sand up the coast is causing the accretion.’

Sand build-up at Whatapu

Sand build-up at Whatapu

I am not prepared to give any more oxygen to the (A) Team except to agree that the surf at Piha is valuable and should be protected FULL STOP.

What I do wish to say is  “I do not know of any other volunteer group, with immeasurable knowledge and advice behind them, whose  work has to be ‘approved’ by politicians. ”   Politicians set policy and, in this case, council manages those policies.

This shows such utter disrespect to the volunteers, the advisers and associated depth of knowledge of  this group of volunteers is appalling.   My advice?  Stop volunteering!

NOTE: The Board ‘received’ the report.  They have not ‘adopted’ or ‘endorsed’ it.

Post Script:  Council Officer and Senior Coastal Scientist agrees with Jim Dahm

“The 9 October 2013 meeting it was requested that council officers provide comment with regards to the relationship between dune advancement and the Patiki rip.

On 19 March 2014 when asked to clarify for the layperson Sam Morgan said:

“I agree that the Pakiti Rip is a contributing factor to the formation of the ‘Piha Bar’, but I agree with Jim Dahm in that I think the major contributor to changes in the Pakiti Rip is the infilling of the South Piha embayment.””

On 17 March 2014 Sam Morgan – Senior Coastal Scientist, Auckland Council provided the following comment:

“The contentious issue appears to be around the impact of dune planting on the Pakiti Rip and its subsequent influence on the formation of the Piha Bar surf break. Mr. Wallis and Piha R&R note the Pakiti Rip supplies sand to the south end (sheltered) of the beach which is then groomed by the refracting swells which in turn produces a sand bar for waves to break along in a consistent break angle and pitch. This is consistent with the formation of other surfing breaks, such as Whangamata Bar, where tidal or rip currents supply sand (at a meso level) for waves to break along. These are often dynamic features and the quality of the breaking waves can be dependent upon a variety of factors including sand supply, current dynamics, swell frequency and approach. Both Mr. Wallis and Piha R&R relate, at least in part, the deterioration in the consistency of wave quality on Piha Bar to the creation of artificial dunes and/or planting of dunes in the South Piha beach cell.

Mr. Dahm contends that the deterioration in the consistency of wave quality on the Piha Bar is related to the infilling of the South Piha embayment which is influenced by the recent (past 100 years or so) increase in sand supply to the wider Piha Beach cell (via Whatipu). It is likely that as the embayment has filled with sand the Pakiti Rip has weakened and/ or moved out with the beach. In short the volume of sand that has filled the bay in, will have reduced the volume of water (depth) in the embayment which would contribute (influence) to the size of the rip. Further, as the beach has advanced seaward this may have changed the near shore dynamics which contribute to the consistency of the velocity and direction of the Pakiti Rip.

Mr. Dahm has supported the inference that shoreline advance has influenced these features by stating the dunes would not be capable of building seaward without the influence of a positive sand supply, regardless of any potential influence of dune planting and reshaping. The relationship between beach advance and sediment supply is well recognised in the coastal science literature. Local examples of this relationship are the area between Karekare and Whatipu which has seen extensive beach building without the influence of dune planting or reshaping. Conversely Muriwai Beach underwent rapid retreat of the seaward boundary despite planting and dune shaping programmes.

Questions were also raised with respect to the timeframes for potential erosion within the Piha Coastal cell. Timing of such an event is difficult to ascertain as observation of the dynamics along this coast is limited to the past 100-150years and coastal dynamics along the West Coast are not well understood. Complex numerical modelling may provide some insight but the accuracy of the models would be questionable given the lack of raw data available to correlate the models.”

Source: Agenda of Waitākere Ranges Local Board – 25 September 2014

Your Comments

1 comment

  1. Sooz says:

    The movement of sand at Piha lately has been very dramatic. The patiki rock was almost all but covered up and yet at the bottom of lion the rocks became very visible. To be honest I’m not a fan of planting on the dunes or those very ugly walkways, which are deteriorating and not being fixed. This is one of the most iconic surf beaches in the world, now the beach is getting steeper with sand build up on the dunes the surf and breaks will change. Let nature do its thing I say.

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