Residents' dismay at dune care

By Kiri Gillespie

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Efforts to care for Mount Maunganui sand dunes are being criticised by a group of Omanu residents, who are finding their established gardens of colourful flowers being replaced by native grasses.

For several decades residents have planted numerous flowers, predominantly perennials, on the dunes to help bind the sand together on their beachfront properties.

But the flowers are being replaced by native plants.

Resident Bryan Winters said the flowers he'd planted were better at dune retention and control but "it's clear the powers that be think they must go".

"The colourful plants hold strong all year round and provide an ever-changing show of flowers ... beach walkers frequently walk up to admire the brilliant displays, which change from red to purple to blue to green throughout the seasons."

Oceanbeach Rd resident Janet Peters said the flowers were one of the reasons she bought her small apartment on the beach four years ago.

"When I first saw my place it was winter and red with aloe flowers - just gorgeous," she said.

"At the moment the pink pelargoniums are starting to flower. I realise they are not native but they hold the sand well. Apparently the neighbours many years ago in the fifties planted the flowers and it's just beautiful."

Ms Peters said there were better things the council or Coast Care could spend their money on, rather than "spraying noxious chemicals on to established gardens".

Tauranga City Council team leader for park rangers Warren Aitken said the residents were justified in having a difference of opinion about what made a dune attractive and council staff talked to residents about the dunes.

Mr Aitken said exotic flowers such as agapanthus, pig's ear, aloe and daisies binded sand in the same way as any vegetation did, but native dune plants were better suited for holding the dunes together in the long term. This was because their roots grew much deeper (up to 3m), whereas plants like agapanthus had root structures that were only 1m deep.

The council had been monitoring the dunes as part of a Coast Care partnership and initiative to restore the coastal dunes.


Dune business


This year more than 3000 volunteers have planted 110,000 native dune plants throughout our region. Coast Care work included controlling exotic plants which have the potential to become weeds in the dunes, and replanting the areas with coastal natives. Coast Care is funded by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Whakatane District Council, Opotiki District Council and the Department of Conservation.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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