There is now a great demand for baches and holiday homes in New Zealand. This is putting increased pressure on the rural coastal areas of New Zealand – among the many coastal areas now under threat is the Te Arai Beach area, which is especially at risk, as it is situated only about 90 minutes drive from Auckland.
This unique area of North Auckland coastline is at present an isolated, rural area which has now become the focus of large-scale property developers. Unfortunately, if this housing development goes ahead, this unique and natural area will be lost forever.
Te Arai is one of a few areas left in the Rodney District area that retains a relatively unspoiled and historical environment and this must be protected for future generations to enjoy. There are also a number of rare and endangered species found at Te Arai and neighboring Mangawhai beaches that will be greatly effected, to the point of extinction. New Zealander’s are already world leaders in our rates of endangered and extinct species, and it is time to start protecting our ‘clean green’ image. We need to put a stop to these ‘think big’ types of developments. One the species in this area, is the critically endangered the New Zealand Fairy Tern, which has only a few breeding areas left in the world. Sadly, there is little hope of survival for this rare bird if a large development (and the inevitable predator and pollution risk) goes ahead in this area – breeding in captivity or relocation is not an option for coastal seabirds.
Destruction of unique and historical coastal areas is not new in the Rodney District. The Rodney District Council had the foresight back in the 1980’s to start recognising and protecting these areas. The Te Arai Beach coastline makes up a part of the Rodney Ecological District which was determined back in the early 1980’s. This was done with the cooperation of the Department of Conservation, Rodney District Council, Auckland Regional Council and the local landowners. This involved a survey over several years, to identify areas of native biological and landform features that could be worthy of protection. The Survey Report for the Protected Natural Areas has the following to say in it summary;
“The natural biological character of the Rodney Ecological District is now significantly depleted”. The Report then lists 30 places which “best capture the range and quality of ecosystems and landscapes of the District are listed as priorities for protection. Each place is briefly described to show how outstanding landform, vegetation and wildlife values are interrelated”…” The Protected Natural Areas Programme has been developed to identify this heritage with the purpose of ensuring that all of its elements are understood and conserved for the future.”…” In Rodney the destruction of natural areas is continuing, and the rate of loss is alarming. There is an urgent need to look at the natural heritage of the district, and to protect the best remaining areas.”
This report then goes on to have this to say about the Mangawhai though to Pakiri Coastline; “A series of peninsulas, headlands, and drowned embayments along the Hauraki Gulf coastline contain a diversity of erosional and depositional landforms often in repeating patterns. The dune system of the Mangawhai / Pakiri Beach is perhaps the most striking”
“Along the coastline, a variety of habitats may be found including deep water channels, intertidal flats, mangroves, salt marches and terrestrial margins, These diverse habitats provide extensive and rich feeding areas for a variety of bird species including oceanic species, waders, marsh birds and forest birds. Some of these species are common such as the gannet, godwit, and pukeko while others such as the NZ dotterel and reef heron are nationally threatened. Species of lizards are found on the beaches and in the scrublands and forests. These habitats, particularly those relatively unmodified, have large and varied populations of invertebrates. Nesting of coastal bird species in the estuarine ecosystem can occur on shell banks, islands, beaches, and in mangroves, salt marshes and nearby scrublands.”
This survey must have cost a small fortune in dollar value and human resources, and it would be incredibly senseless for this to have been done in vain. You can’t stop development, but we can choose to keep it in sensible areas that are already developed and do not have as much to lose as Te Arai. This is a great opportunity for us all to help protect an area of significant natural and historic value, and it is also a great opportunity to prove that somethings are more important to most New Zealanders than just the almighty dollar.