Thursday, March 29, 2012

Onehunga Shi---shore-- Why don't I just say it? (part 2)

          The tide coming in.                                          We can do without this in the bay!

The Guava bush.                                                 We would love our dogs to be safe too!

It has been a day since I started to write about the Onehunga Foreshore and in that time my anger has been bubbling away, building to the point where I feel I must continue and get people onside to confront the arrogant Council, who think they know best. I recall the crazy days in the late 60’s and 70’s, when I joined many marches against NZ’s involvement in the Vietnam War. I thought I had mellowed since then, but remember, I said that people should find a cause bigger than the stupid row over the ‘Pack and Save adverts’ (see my previous blogs), well here it is.
It is local and it is an example of how we are bullied and ignored by the ‘grey man in suits’ (I guess there’s a few women in there too), residing in the ugly high-rise building next to the Town Hall in Queen Street. I bet they had no trouble finding the millions they needed to refurbish that lovely old building.
I was angry enough to almost put a title saying the ‘Onehunga shitshore.’ But I stopped short. Forgive me, the more genteel amongst you, but I hope you become involved in this struggle to achieve a result that matches the Supercity’s stated aims in the 30 year plan around health and environmental issues.
What a crock of shi---oops I almost said it again.  I said in my last blog on this issue that—OK—at least plan for a solution to alleviate the problem of polluted storm water and  outflows containing faecal matter.
I walk my dog at the Lagoon and we have been worried for ages about the state of the water and sludge that appears at low tide. There is also the poor drainage generally that besets this potentially wonderful space for people and dogs. Take last week for example. The Onehunga Festival was supposed to be held on one side of the lagoon. Many community groups would have been disappointed because the Council had to cancel this yearly event on the Saturday morning because of the state of the field. They tried their best to make it usable, but it all comes down to the original set up of the lagoon and its surrounds. The drainage was never good enough to cope with more than a moderate downfall.
I have to be careful here, but it is said that a private establishment has illegally built an outflow into the harbour on the other side of the motorway. Is this the reason that the Council announced yesterday that one of the beaches will have to be layered with shells and pebbles? Is this action supposed to keep the beach safe, while the crap continues to flow?
WHAT CAN WE DO---COLLECTIVELY? Send this blog on--- talk to your Members of Parliament---talk to your local Community Board Members.
The bottom line----- the Council is going to spend $28 on the Foreshore (and Lagoon?). Great---- but get it right so that we don’t have to worry about ‘outflows,’ faecal matter or any other undesirable organisms. We do not want the users of this wonderful area being struck down by nasties like Campylobacter (one of our friends probably got that from the water taps at the Lagoon). Let’s have a foreshore and lagoon that not just Onehunga residents, but the whole of Auckland can be proud to play, swim and exercise in.
PS. Look at that picture with the red berries. We stumbled across it today, right on the edge of the wall at the northern end of the lagoon. They were Guavas; only about a dozen, but they were fat, juicy and yummy---hopefully not contaminated with anything. Isn’t it amazing that this little shrub can survive in such an environment? We even pick mushrooms there!  

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.