Thursday, February 14, 2013

Will we be able to swim on the 'new' beaches at the Onehunga Foreshore project?

The Manukau Harbour has been seen as the ‘poor sister,’ to its busy and dazzling counterpart on the other side of the Auckland Isthmus. This has not always been so however as in its early development the Manukau represented a ‘faster and more direct’ journey across the Tasman Sea to Australia. It was only after ships became too big to navigate the treacherous Manukau entrance that Onehunga became left behind on some sort of time warp.
The same could be said for the recreational use of the Manukau. In the early days of settlement, it was possible to see ladies dressed in their fashionable bathing costumes alighting from horse-drawn changing carriages and the ‘bay’ was quite the picnic spot.
Then came the pollution; some from badly run industrial sites and of course the terrible sewerage ponds and plant near the once beautiful Puketutu Island. One would never consider swimming amongst such filth then and even more so once the bay became disconnected and landlocked because of the new motorway.
The ‘bay’ as some of you will know is one of my favourite places (when the tide is in) for walking my beloved Jack Russell, although ‘walking’ is a bit tame to describe her manic rushing about and playing with her best friends (Doggies of course). The ‘bay’ is one of the few places where we can let our dogs loose.
Things are about to change. Maybe, we will be able to swim again, once the new beaches have been constructed on the other side of the motorway. Perhaps our dogs won’t be welcome during Summer time daylight hours, but everything is really moving along and in a few years we will be able to enjoy the ‘fingers of fill that are thrusting out into the bay. If only we could be sure that the new beaches will be clean enough; that is the question.
I have begun to swim at an off the leash area next to Waikowhai Bay, about three bays around from Onehunga. The only problem is the ‘hike’ back up to the upper car park after a swim. That sort of negates the idea of having a refreshing swim. However, the water felt and looked clean and my enquiries resulted in advice that the Manukau is fine for swimming so long as one does not do so after heavy rain. Is that not the same over the Isthmus, on the ‘sparling Waters there?
Let’s hope that things will be great for the new development and that once again, Onehunga can assume a position it so richly deserves.