Ngunguru Sandspit Protection Society
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“Kiia iho, e oku teina, he mea hari nui ina taka koutou ki nga whakamatautauranga maha; E matau ana hoki koutou, ko te whakamatautauranga o to koutou whakapono hei mahi i te manawanui.” (James 1:2-3)

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The society's mission is to support protection of the natural, cultural and historic values of Ngunguru sandspit so it is enjoyed, valued and cherished now and by future generations.

This website is kept updated with short articles, links, pictures and other material.

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"...Those people point out a fact that is often overlooked by those of us who live here - that endless kilometres of undeveloped coastline and vast areas of native bush where one can feel complete solitude are unheard of in many parts of the world. It is the quiet atmosphere of the place that makes it such a treasure."
Northern Advocate editorial: Northland naturally worth visiting - and saving.

All Items - new content items in all categories
Key Resources - get up to speed with these items
Articles by Topic - an in-depth look at sandspit protection
Events - activities the society is involved in
Other Coastlines - other places with similar challenges
Human Interest - off-topic material of local interest
Photo Gallery - heaps of images
Links - annotated links to related sites and agencies

Regular visitor? Go straight to All Items because new items will be appearing there, almost on a daily basis.

If you register, you can submit your own material and use all the site's features. If you want to become a member of the society, though, you do need to sign and post off a form.

Featured Article

Sunday April 23 2017 Ngunguru Sandspit Walk

Yours to value and enjoy, Ngunguru Sandspit, a wilderness landscape with many stories to tell about history, culture, rare plants and wildlife. Get involved in the future of your sandspit, your place.

Rolling start time: 10am-11.30am.
Last return time: 12.30pm.
Meet at Te Maika Rd, Ngunguru.
Register at the marquee.
Bring your own kayak, canoe, paddleboard, tinny.
Ferry boats provided, bring a small koha.
Bring a lifejacket.
Leave the dog at home.
Help us clean the beach.

Posted by Steve Marshall on Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Key Resources
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Landco is the most recent development company to turn its attention to the sandspit and Whakairiora, but it's certainly not the first. The area has been in a tug-of-war for the last 45 years or so between private and public interests. Check out the following resources to learn the history of the place, understand the current situation, and think about some possible futures for the site.


Sandspit Timeline
Pat Heffey's chronological account of important events in the history of the sandspit, regularly brought up to date – 1838 to 2013.

The Ngunguru Sandspit and the protection of wahi tapu
A case study written in 1996 by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Looks at efforts in the early 90s to get the sandspit into public ownership and protect its cultural, historic and natural heritage.


Values of the Ngunguru Sandspit
An item about the sandspit's values and the society's purposes.

Close Up: Sandspit Fight
A TV1 item about local reaction to LandCo's proposed development of the sandspit.

Fight for the beaches
A Listener cover story, written in late 2005, about local reaction to LandCo's purchase of the sandspit.

Ngunguru Spit and Whakairiora
Chris Mulcare's summary of events and human pressures on the land.

Values of the Ngunguru Sandspit.

So many reasons to save sandspit
A Northern Advocate editorial by Laura Franklin, summarising the issues related to the sandspit.

2007 and 2008 - from masterplans to landswap attempts
An extract from Ngunguru Sandspit: Values, community and property on the Northland coast.

DoC's "Ngunguru Sandspit - Pī Manu" page
Information from the Department of Conservation about the parts of the Ngunguru Sandspit that are in public hands, including updates on consultation with locals on how it is to be managed.


Ngunguru Spit Subdivision
A New Zealand Herald article by Gary Taylor, chairman of the Environmental Defence Society, explaining why the sandspit is unsuitable for development and recommending that it be put into public ownership.

...if you can't afford a coastal property now, perhaps you could buy one a bit further away from the beach and wait. -Martin Craig, Consumer

Shifting Sands
Raewyn Peart surveys the last sixty years in coastal development and explains why a New Zealand Coastal Commission is now required.

Protecting the Coast
We finally have a beefed-up coastal development policy but more work needs to be done to protect our special beaches.

Coastal erosion
A 2005 Consumer magazine report by Martin Craig looking at what's causing coastal erosion, how bad the problem really is, and what affected homeowners can realistically do.

“ consequence of the world becoming increasingly inter-connected will be to reverse a fundamental principle of economic development, namely that people move to places where jobs are located. ...I believe the opposite will become increasingly true: jobs will emerge where people choose to live. As a result, in the future, the truly successful communities will be those that invest not in attracting businesses, but in making themselves the nicest possible place to be.” Jonathan Schechter, The Charture Institute

Ngunguru Sandspit and Whakairiora Mountain: Irreplaceable PDF Print
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Articles - General
Written by NSaPS   
Saturday, 30 December 2017


To fully protect the environmental and cultural significance of Ngunguru Sandspit by placing remaining land (comprising part of Ngunguru Sandspit and Whakairiora Mountain hatched on photo) into the scenic reserve.

Location and description

Ngunguru Sandspit, 30km north of Whangarei on the east coast, is the only unmodified Holocene (timeframe 11,700 years - present) sandspit north of Auckland. The nearby Whakairiora Mountain's forest cladding includes a unique native forest type. Both landscape features lie in an unspoilt area of estuary, forest and sea coast typical of the virgin Northland coastline. It is a rare - probably the - only opportunity to protect a pristine example of this environment from the type of suburban development that has swallowed so much of the Northland east coast. There are environmental, cultural and economic reasons to do so.


The Northland east coast ecology is influenced by the currents from the tropics. Between Cape Brett and the Poor Knights these currents have their greatest impact and Ngunguru Sandspit/Whakairiora Mountain lie central to this small as yet unexploited area of rich coastal scenery and habitats.

Whakairiora Mountain has been identified by environmentalist Wade Doak as a 'botanical treasure'. The area around the mountain includes representative sites for eleven types of coastal forest and is the only recorded example of five of these. Specifically the groves of kawaka (native cedar) contain specimens up to 40 feet high. kawaka is a nationally threatened tree. The kawaka/matai combination is unrecorded elsewhere in Northland. New Zealand ecologist and ecohistorian Geoff Park and coastal scientist Jim Dahm agree this is probably unique. It is a 40 minute walk from forestclad Whakairiora Mountain to the natural, unmodified Ngunguru Sandspit.

A lamentably rare opportunity in Northland and New Zealand.

The 2005 Department of Conservation survey for the Protected Natural Areas Programme, identified Ngunguru Sandspit as a priority for protection and this was partially achieved recently after five decades of community effort. 'It is an excellent example of an unmodifed sand barrier beach and dune field developed between a tidal estuary and a broad open bay'. The vision to extend this protection to all of the Sandspit and the adjacent Whakairiora Mountain could provide a haven for many identified rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.

This area of coastal forest, estuarine-brackish-freshwater wetland, shrubland and sanddunes provide habitat for a highly diverse range of species: thirty-six bird species including four endangered, six vulnerable, seven declining and five sparse species, all facing habitat reduction due to coastal development; North Island kaka, Northern New Zealand dotterel and variable oystercatcher, threatened invertebrates - the third largest population of Succinea Archeyi snail in New Zealand, black katipo which is in serious decline, black mudfish which is in gradual decline, threatened and regionally significant plants such as pingao.

The preservation of the area will provide a vital link to other areas of important vegetation and significant habitats for indigenous fauna. The new reserve would be part of and enhance the successful Kiwi Coast initiative whose goals are enthusiastically supported by private landowners around Ngunguru. There is a local commitment to conservation backed by local experts of national and international fame.


New Zealanders are deeply attached to their coastal and forest environments and the local community express a spiritual reverence for this area. The archaeology and history of the Sandspit and Mountain justify this.

Tangata whenua hapu Te Waiariki, Ngati Takapari and Ngati Korora have a long history of occupation with the whole area holding official Waahi Tapu status. There is evidence of past gardening and cultivation, village life and a pa called Rangikorero, trading, middens, terraces, house sites, storage pits, artefacts and urupa. The Sandspit was the site of a battle in the 1830s which ended the southern tribes sustained campaign against Ngapuhi. Blood and bones make it sacred. The archaeological evidence embedded in the Sandspit and the Mountain is extremely rare in Northland and rare in New Zealand. There are fifty recorded sites and certainly unrecorded sites. Enormous middens record past use made of the local resources also trading patterns are indicated by Mayor Island obsidian present here. An early site contained the bones of three extinct birds including the giant New Zealand eagle believed extinct since the 14th century indicating hundreds of years of occupation. To quote Independent Maori Statutory Board chairman David Taipari "The traditions and whakapapa of mana whenua...bind these places to the people forming part of their identity.'

Early intercultural contact took place here; the HMS Buffalo captain charted Ngunguru River in 1836; Kauri sawmill in 1840, one of the country's first; 1880s local rangatira Paratene Te Manu established a school on the shores of Ngunguru River on his return from England; the Ngunguru River was a typical river highway for the extraction of coal for the young colony. In its entirety the rich archaeology needs to be preserved for Maori, historians and archaeologists of the present and future. Another perspective to the irreplaceable nature of the Ngunguru Sandspit and Whakairiora Mountain.

Ngunguru Sandspit Protection Society works in partnership with DOC, Iwi and the community including the school to manage and enhance the Sandspit. This organisation is keen to extend this area.


Tourism is Northland's second biggest income stream and it is growing in this region faster than the nation average. To protect this fine example of the Northland coastal environment will protect the region's economy. A recent publication by National Geographic Traveller ranked the Tutukaka Coast 2nd equal internationally among the 100 best global coastal locations for tourists. The reviewer emphasised the natural environment plus the cultural aspects and warned of the danger of degradation due to unplanned and inappropriate development. The preferable outcome would be to increase the attractions of this coast by the creation of a reserve of national and international significance. Ngunguru will soon be linked to Whangarei by a cycleway under construction. It is on the internationally recognised 'Te Araroa Trail' great hike. Eco-tourism is already the basis for some local businesses due to Ngunguru's proximity to the Poor Knights Marine Reserve. The area boasts two surf schools and a paddle board school. Numerous businesses that service holiday homes. A wide variety of recreational activities within a small area. Low impact, easy access, wilderness experiences. Water based activities- kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, snorkelling, diving and swimming. The amenity value of Ngunguru is increased by the beautiful Sandspit and Mountain vista. A community of artists of international repute draw inspiration from the local landscape and rely on the summer tourists to sustain their existence.

As the world faces global warming hazards a note of caution has been sounded by both national and local government about the vulnerability of coastal property. The Sandspit helps protect the estuary and shoreline settlement from the forces of erosion. The remaining privately owned area of the Sandspit is zoned Coastal Hazard 1 & 2. The Insurance Council of New Zealand has warned that property in such areas is 'subject to known risks... coastal erosion, inundation by the sea and tsunami risk'. Consequently, it will soon be impossible to insure. Local council and the rate payers will not wish to pick up the cost. There are recorded breaches of the Ngunguru Sandspit in the past. To develop further coastal property increases the risk and jeopardises existing property by undermining the stability of this dynamic coastal feature.


In August 2011 83.4 hectares of the Ngunguru Sandspit came into Crown ownership and is now administered by the Department of Conservation as a scenic reserve. Associated land remains with Todd Property Group.

The compelling reasons outlined and wide local, national and international support show that the total area should be included in the reserve.

Ngunguru, Northland and the world would then have access to a precious, priceless treasure, now and in the future.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 30 December 2017 )
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Sandspit prints

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Order the Steve Moase Limited Edition Print, The Tranquil Spit Endures, for $300, plus cost of delivery. All of the $300 goes to the Ngunguru Sandspit campaign.

Delivery arrangements will be made by email, on receipt of your order.
Prints will be sent, signature required, by Courier Post.

To the North Island, north of Pukekohe- $12.00
To the North Island, south of Pukekohe- $17.00
To the South Island- $21.00

Delivery should be within 5 days of transferring funds. Cheques will take longer to arrive and clear.

Select the correct option to deliver Steve's print to your door:

Product : Ltd_Print1 | Delivery north of Pukekohe | Price/Unit : 312 NZ dollars
Product : Ltd_Print2 | Delivery south of Pukekohe | Price/Unit : 317 NZ dollars
Product : Ltd_Print3 | Delivery to the South Island | Price/Unit : 321 NZ dollars


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