Thursday, March 29, 2012

Onehunga Foreshore and Lagoon---second best again?

Over the last two years there has been a discussion about the development of the Onehunga foreshore. The aim is to bring back the days whereby the Onehunga Beach is once again a focus for local residents to enjoy the harbour. There was a time when families picnicked and cavorted on the shoreline. It wasn’t until the motorway was constructed in the 1970’s that the area compromised, although the pollution from the nearby sewerage plant had curtailed swimming and fishing activities for many decades, as Auckland spread-eagled beyond its early boundaries. One would have to look back to the 19th century to truly see how important the area was, both for shipping and leisure pursuits.
Over the years the Waitemata harbour became the darling of Aucklanders. For those of you reading this blog beyond NZ, take a look at the map and you will see that Auckland sits on an isthmus between harbours, both blessed with their own character. However, it is the Waitemata that has been the focus of development for the last hundred years, leaving Onehunga and its foreshore lagging behind, left to a few stalwarts to fight a rear-guard action to maintain some sort of respectability for the area.  
Finally, it has been decided to spend $28 million dollars to revamp, redesign and reclaim three new beaches on the seaward side of the Onehunga Lagoon. It has even been rumoured that the lagoon would benefit from being dredged and re-sanded to make it a safe swimming beach. Rumour is probably the best we shall achieve for the lagoon and already there are some doubts about the reality of three safe, clean new beaches. Perhaps those of us living near the Onehunga foreshore have become used to the fact that it will always play second fiddle to our more wealthy and influential Eastern residents.
Pollution, sewerage and storm water contamination, emanating from several outlets (some allegedly illegal), endangers any claim that both areas will be suitable for humans swimming, never lone dogs frolicking in the water. Several claims have been made that human faecal matter has been found, both in the lagoon and near one of the proposed new beaches. What is the Council planning? It was reported in the New Zealand herald on Thursday the 30th March, 2012, that gravel and shells will be placed on the said beach to discourage swimming.
What is the point of spending so much money, then to turn around and say that the plan is already compromised? Does the Council really believe that such a move will stop people swimming? Would it not be better to find the source of the leaks, punish those who have contributed to the pollution and fix what I can only assume are old and damaged systems?
I suppose the question of financing such works will be the hard question. Well--- at least let us see a plan  to fix the problem and include the lagoon, so that once gain we can eventually look forward to what is after all, something that was been taken from us in the first place. It is time that we are treated equally in the West.