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Home arrow Events arrow A Walk on the Ngunguru Sandspit Beach
A Walk on the Ngunguru Sandspit Beach PDF Print
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Action - Events
Written by Wade Doak, Focus   
Saturday, 15 September 2012

[A copy of an article that is in Focus magazine]

Those sandhoppers must have got a shock last Sunday. On a dull, threatening morning, 2 September, some 170 people assembled at a marquee near Ngunguru School and registered to cross the river and walk the intertidal of the ocean beach - and gather rubbish. A fleet of five small boats efficiently delivered them, life-jacketed and bag-bearing, to the other side. To protect the nesting N.Z. dotterels sand dune margins were roped off and people were advised about the rarity and vulnerability of these birds in their maternity ward.

A huge surprise awaited midway along the beach. A nondescript mound on the sand resolved into the decomposing corpse of a humpback whale about 9m long. Because its upper jaw was gone, it was easy to examine the plankton sieving baleen fibres fringing its mouth. It may have been killed by ship collision.

Along the tideline people collected sea junk from sections of coarse fishing net, lures, old buckets etc. Two young kids showed amazing ingenuity in transporting a car tyre on a pole between them the whole length of the beach. Something of the pioneer spirit emerged with the number of babes in arms and toddlers that made the river voyage and long walk. And a certain indomitable attitude was evident in the huge turnout on such a grey Sunday morning.

Back at the marquee a constant supply of hot coffee warmed the beach travellers. Somehow, for all the lack of sunshine, a warmth and radiance from human contact made it all seem bright and sunny. People were able to appreciate the dramatic outcome of their years of effort to save this wilderness from threatened development with a major housing subdivision. A glance at Mt Whakairiora at the south end of the beach aroused the question: will its forest mantled slopes become real estate -or can we gain public ownership of it too, for a major wilderness reserve? Beach walkers could understand how important wilderness is to the survival of the dotterel and other native species. Along the dune crest at intervals, small russet patches of native pingao signal where efforts are needed to revegetate [along with pest control] with salt water resistant native dune grasses, pingao and spinifex, that can create a sloping fore dune rather than sections of vertical cliff, as now. In this situation wading birds such as oystercatchers and dotterels have better survival chances with their nestlings. Anybody who has carried a load of beach rubbish back along the shore and across the river to a waiting truck, is not likely to throw junk into the sea.

As Jan and I signed off on the register at midday it hit us: what a huge manifestation of selfless public spirit such a nature appreciating occasion elicits: boats, tent, rubbish truck, posters, coffee, dune markings and the whole organisation of Ngunguru Sandspit Protection Society that created the event, make us so proud to live in a bit of authentic N.Z community. A Department of Conservation rep. was there too.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 16 September 2012 )
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