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Home arrow Other Coastlines arrow Matapouri arrow Lines in the sand at Northland beach
Lines in the sand at Northland beach PDF Print
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Other Coastlines - Matapouri
Written by Geoff Cumming, The New Zealand Herald   
Thursday, 11 December 2008

Leonie Molloy Chair of the 'Friends of Matapouri' and Kris MacDonald , chairman of the Rangiwhakaahu Hapu at the site under dispute. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Matapouri Bay on Northland's east coast has always been a therapeutic visit. The stunning horseshoe bay with its broad ribbon of white sand is almost enclosed by bushclad headlands. Surrounding hills hold back the clouds and child-friendly surf rolls in most days.

The slow pace and feel of one of the north's most beautiful beaches is partly down to significant Maori land ownership: the baches on leasehold land at the southern end remain authentically Kiwi. But as seaside settlements around the country have found, money and progress can threaten the magic - and tear communities apart.

The recent carve up of the Morrison farm - bringing upmarket beach houses - at the northern end was an inevitable response to soaring coastal land values. Tarsealing of the coast road and the internet have also brought change: articulate, conservation-minded lifestylers and Whangarei commuters now rub shoulders with farmers and retirees.

Tarsealing of the coast road and the internet have also brought change: articulate, conservation-minded lifestylers and Whangarei commuters now rub shoulders with farmers and retirees.

Matapouri's serenity began to unravel last Labour Weekend after local woman Solange Bely stumbled upon survey pegs in dunes at the northern end of the beach. She asked questions and a public meeting was called. Most locals thought the 1.1 ha triangle of land being marked out for subdivision was part of the Crown-owned Otito Reserve. They knew it as wahi tapu (sacred), an area by a freshwater stream where bodies were processed and cleansed before burial. Unknown to the wider community was that a 1999 survey had given title to neighbouring landowners the Ringer family, descendants of the pioneering Morrisons.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 December 2008 )
 
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