Beach art at Waikawau Bay ahead of controversial subdivision

Waikawau Bay (Supplied)
Waikawau Bay (Supplied)

Today marks a day of celebration for the Coromandel's stunning Waikawau Bay.

Beach art classes will be held by Andres Amador from midday on the southern side of the beach, near the Department of Conservation (DOC) campsite.

Mr Amador is an artist who has been travelling the country with his beach art. Today he will be demonstrating, and from 2pm it will be open to participation.

Beach art at Waikawau Bay ahead of controversial subdivision

Andres Amador (Supplied)

The beach art celebrates the bay's 50 years history of protection from subdivision and construction.

But this is about to change, and it's causing a stir.

A residential subdivision is being built on the southern side of the previously untouched beach, and one group is unhappy they were not notified.

More than 2000 people have registered to support the Save Waikawau Bay group, who says the bay is one of the last "unspoiled beaches and one of the great gems on the Coromandel Peninsula that's accessible by road".

Nine residential allotments amounting to approximately 18ha were granted consent by the Coromandel-Thames District Council in December 2013 for the northern portion of 891 Tuateawa Rd, says council development planning manager Michael Jones.

It's under the council's 'Little Bay, Waikawau-Kennedy Bay Road Structure Plan', which has been in the Thames-Cromandel District Plan since 1999.

Beach art at Waikawau Bay ahead of controversial subdivision


The consent holder is Kamara Whenua Ltd, who advised the council of construction work, but did not need to notify the public.

"The subdivision consent that was granted by council is a controlled activity which met the requirements of our Operative District Plan," says Mr Jones.

However, the council plan does ask for the "rehabilitation and protection of existing indigenous vegetation", including rehabilitation of pine trees following their felling and on-going plant and animal pest control programmes.

A management plan is to be prepared by an ecology and landscape expert, to specify the number and species of plantings, and to identify the areas of planting and on-going protection and maintenance.

But Save Waikawau Bay says the planning officer said environmental effects from the nine allotments "would be less than minor".

"To have a housing subdivision overlooking the beach would certainly have major adverse effect on the landscape integrity of Waikawau Bay," the group says.

Their concern is one of the proposed lots under development, which adjoins to Public Conservation Land.

But DOC says it doesn't have "active ecological restoration or pest management programmes currently."

"The Department is of the understanding that the work undertaken is within the regulations of the District Plan and Resource Management Act 1991," it wrote in a letter to Save Waikawau Bay's Stephanie McKee.

The bay has a history of conservation management.

In the 1960s there was a proposal for 2000 holiday homes, but in the early 1970s the Environment Council had the beach bought by the Department of Lands and Survey.

In the late 1970s the Waikawau Bay area was transferred to DOC, and in 2003 land at the northern end was bought through the Nature Heritage Fund.

Construction of the nine allotments has currently been put on hold due to "variation to earthworks volumes" until the end of April, or further notice.