Red weed vexes surf life saving organisers

By Alexandra Newlove

2 comments
Red seaweed infesting Waipu Cove beach is posing problems for organisers of surf life saving competitions.
Red seaweed infesting Waipu Cove beach is posing problems for organisers of surf life saving competitions.

Waipu residents continue to battle an onslaught of red weed, which is putting at risk a surf event set to attract hundreds of out-of-town visitors.

Ian Godfrey of Waipu Surf Life Saving Club said Camp Waipu was already filling up with competitors and their families, in town for two major surf life saving competitions hosted by the club this weekend, which were expected to attract a crowd of at least 1500. But thousands of tonnes of red seaweed washing up in large quantities on Waipu Cove beach over the last week was complicating the organisation of the events.

Mr Godfrey said the weed's presence could mean moving the competition north along the beach, though the club had to be mindful of their permits for racing inflatable rescue boats (IRBs).

"They're going to make a call as to the location this afternoon. The weed does pose some problems, especially with the entanglement in the IRBs."

The two tournaments are the Harcourts Surf Sport Carnival on Saturday and Harcourts Northern Region IRB Carnival on Sunday.

In February 2013 large quantities of algae were left to rot on the beach at Waipu Cove while locals endured the putrid stench.

Waipu scientist Andre Labonte said truck and digger-driving volunteers had cleared a whopping 4000 tonnes of weed from the beach and water so far, dumping it on the paddocks of a nearby farm, but it continued to wash up.

There had been debate between Northland Regional Council staff and locals as to whether there was resource consent to carry out the work. NRC's regulatory services manager Colin Dall said locals were using a consent obtained in 2014 to carry out dune restoration works, but this was only operative between Easter and December 1. Mr Dall said NRC would not be intervening to stop the weed clearance.

Regional councillor Craig Brown said he had "given permission" to Mr Labonte to carry out the work and would take the flak if it was a breach of NRC rules. "I'm here to do the bidding of the community. I chose to say 'fire away and move it' and I would do that again ..."

- Northern Advocate

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