The safety of recreational fishermen and the economic survival of commercial fishing boats at Akitio are now better thanks to the local community and tradesmen pulling together to build the new boat access ramp.

Commercial fisherman Bill Fergus tows his boat up from the water using the new ramp access.
Commercial fisherman Bill Fergus tows his boat up from the water using the new ramp access.

After a combination of seasonal spring tides, a build up of driftwood over much of the beach and the loss of sand cover, the only boat access on to the beach was completely eroded and not able to be used.

Erosion had taken away much of the sand and there was a drop of 1.5m and continual scouring from waves.

A temporary rock wall and polythene was used to keep the sea at bay while work was done on the trench and ramp.
A temporary rock wall and polythene was used to keep the sea at bay while work was done on the trench and ramp.

"Akitio ratepayers were concerned there would be problems over the very busy summer and commercial fishermen based at Akitio were worried the lack of access because of the erosion was affecting their livelihoods," Akitio Ratepayers Association chairman Peter Greatbatch told the Dannevirke News.

Advertisement

"Sergeant Bill Nicholson the Central Districts Search and Rescue (SAR) co-ordinator also strongly supported our bid for a new ramp as SAR responses rely heavily on this access for incidents at Akitio and as far north as Herbertville."

Rescues and searches are undertaken with the support of Akitio residents and in particular the cray boats and private boats which operate off the beach.

Late last year the Tararua District Council agreed to pay $30,000 towards the cost of the new access.

"It's a matter of life or death," councillor Jim Crispin said.

And Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis said there was no doubt something had to be done.

Prenters Ready Mix trucks delivering the 50m of concrete which was poured by Manawatu Concrete Pumping.
Prenters Ready Mix trucks delivering the 50m of concrete which was poured by Manawatu Concrete Pumping.

"It [the access] was dangerous. The work was a real necessity because the access is very heavily used by local fishermen and the public," he said. "The work has been a great success and the project carried out extremely quickly and I'd like to thank Horizons Regional Council and local iwi for their help with the resource consent.

"Peter (Greatbatch) as project manager, did a wonderful job co-ordinating it all and I think there was a realisation by everyone that the new ramp needed to be in by Christmas."

Mr Greatbatch said everyone is very happy they can get on to the beach.

Access to Akitio Beach was left high and dry, causing problems for boaties and those involved in rescues.
Access to Akitio Beach was left high and dry, causing problems for boaties and those involved in rescues.

"There's a real peace of mind, knowing it's accessible now. Before this work was carried out the only way to get boats out was along the beach by the toilets, but with rocks exposed it was a case of playing dodgems and it was dangerous.

"The big thing with this project is that locals and tradesmen went out of their way to support it, supplying labour, machinery and materials at reduced rates."

Since completion, boats have been called on to help with rescues and Mr Greatbatch said the ramp "has made such a difference.

"So many people stepped up to help, we worked like mad men. It was quite a mission, but now it's working so well there's a real sense of achievement."