Red tape nets Freddie

By Peter de Graaf

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Freddie the Shark devours another young visitor to Paihia. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Freddie the Shark devours another young visitor to Paihia. Photo / Peter de Graaf

A shark inhabiting the Paihia pavement looks set to join the endangered species list after falling foul of the community board.

Freddie is a fake shark with gaping mouth and pointy teeth on the Williams Rd footpath outside Letz Cafe. It is about 1.5m high and is frequently photographed by tourists, usually while their children peek from its bloodied jaws.

The problem is that, as a structure on the footpath, Freddie requires permission from Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board to remain in its preferred habitat.

Another Williams Rd business owner complained about Freddie to the council, which referred the matter to the board, which decided at its November meeting that the shark would have to go.

Letz Cafe owner Jeremy Vaughan mounted an impassioned defence of Freddie at the meeting, saying it was an entertainment facility for tourists and not, as had been claimed, an advertising device.

Following discussion with council staff he had moved Freddie to the other side of his al fresco area and given up one of the three tables he was allowed on the footpath. If the problem was that Freddie was not a chair or table, it could be made into one, Mr Vaughan said.

Chairman Terry Greening said the board had agreed with other business owners in Paihia who felt Freddie was not an appropriate advertising device.

A suggestion had been made to shift the shark into the entrance of a nearby mall, but that was a fire escape route where Freddie would pose a health and safety risk. Mr Vaughan had been informed of the board's decision, Mr Greening said.

As of earlier this week Freddie was still patrolling the Williams Rd pavement. Mr Greening said if the shark remained, a monitoring officer could require its removal.

- Northern Advocate

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