Illegal campers anger beach residents

By Kristin Edge

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ON SHAKY GROUND: Illegal campers on the council reserve at Tokerau Beach this month.PHOTO/SUPPLIED
ON SHAKY GROUND: Illegal campers on the council reserve at Tokerau Beach this month.PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Tokerau Beach might have been paradise for some this summer but many locals weren't impressed to see the council reserve at the end of Ramp Rd turned into a camping ground.

Local Te Hiku Community Board representative Lawrie Atkinson estimated that up to 300 people were camped there at times, leading to queues at the grossly overloaded public toilets, piles of rubbish for the council contractor to deal with and no room for day visitors.

Some of the campers made things worse by riding noisy bikes at all hours, including 5.30am on New Year's Day.

Despite numerous signs saying "no bikes, horses, campervans or tenting", people continued to flout the council rules, a regular visitor to the beach said. Dogs, some of them intimidating, had also been allowed to roam loose.

The council hadn't provided much relief either, he said.

One caller said he was told his call would be logged but no one was available to deal with the situation.

When council staff did arrive, they either didn't know the bylaws or did not have the authority to move people on.

A number of meetings are now being organised by residents, the local ratepayers' group and the council, and Mayor John Carter has promised a better council response next summer.

Residents who were sick of the "freeloaders" at the reserve had Mr Atkinson's support. He said camping on the reserve next year would be nipped in the bud.

"It was an absolute shambles there over Christmas," he said, adding that he would be meeting with Mr Carter, councillors Colin Kitchen and Mate Radich, and council staff, to address the issue.

Apart from that, he said, beachgoers at Tokerau had been well-behaved. He gave the credit to the imposition of a speed limit at beach access points and the work done by an honorary beach warden.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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