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Home arrow Other Coastlines arrow Ocean Beach arrow An unsettled coastline?
An unsettled coastline? PDF Print
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Other Coastlines - Ocean Beach
Written by Professor Robin Kearns and Dr Damian Collins, Ingenio, University of Auckland   
Saturday, 23 February 2008

In the course of our recent fieldwork in Hawke’s Bay, a number of people have remarked that the first place they take international visitors is Ocean Beach, an expansive 9km stretch of open coast close to Hastings. In a similar fashion, West Coast beaches like Piha loom large for Aucklanders showing new arrivals "the sights". Why this homing in to wild coastal places? Perhaps we have an urge to show newcomers places that align with New Zealand’s image as green and pure? Perhaps we realise the uniqueness of relatively undeveloped beaches in close proximity to urban centres? Certainly these types of landscapes form part of our national heritage.

What will international visitors make of these beaches as they become more intensively developed? Will they enjoy the new opportunities for comfortable accommodation and latts? As for New Zealanders, while residential and commercial development at the coast represents a welcome opportunity for some, others find it is deeply unsettling. Larger, bolder houses and higher fences speak to a more private and imposing built landscape, often portrayed as detracting from the experience of going to the beach.

It is timely that debate about the future of the coast is occurring. There is little consensus on how New Zealanders see the coast, nor how they wish to leave it for future generations.

Our research project is investigating these concerns through detailed case studies. One is Ocean Beach, where landowners and developers have proposed building up to 1000 units at a site where currently only a small cluster of baches and a surf club stand. Our interviews with stakeholders, and examination of public submissions, have revealed a number of key themes.

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