Reducing traffic and changes to vehicular access to Ninety Mile Beach will be discussed by a new governance board overseeing the beach, the chairman says.
The Te Oneroa a Tohe governance board was formed as part of the redress in the Treaty claims settlement of four Muriwhenua tribes - Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri - and has control over the length of Ninety Mile Beach and 12 miles out to sea.
The board had its first meeting last week where Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi was elected as chairman. Vehicle access to the beach has been a hot topic in the past and Mr Piripi said it would no doubt be brought up as a point of discussion for the board.
"I'm certain a total ban won't be discussed. But we're keen to develop regimes to protect crustacean and sea life. So perhaps we will look at spawning times, for toheroa for example, and look at how vehicles would impact that. We might have certain areas out of bounds at certain times, we'll need to work those things out," said Mr Piripi.
He said iwi understood the role Te Oneroa a Tohe (Ninety Mile Beach) plays in tourism so the last thing they wanted was to block people from accessing the beach. He said the aim of reducing traffic was to protect the beach.
"Anecdotally we've heard about the damage to toheroa. It's not exclusively done by vehicles but that is a contributing factor along with a lack of fresh water and other things."
He said the new board, comprising four members representing local iwi and four representing Far North District Council and the Northland Regional Council, meant iwi were able to provide governance and direction to promote the use, development and protection of the Far North beach.
"This gives us as iwi the opportunity to voice our concerns, the opportunity for discussion and the opportunity to protect Te Oneroa a Tohe. Research shows there is nothing like this in the country."
Mr Piripi said the first meeting was a success. "There is quite a few perspectives to reconcile with four iwi and two councils. I thought it would be a mission but I was pleasantly surprised, everyone was focused, it was excellent."
The board will be responsible for developing a Beach Management Plan and it will publicly notify the plan and seek submissions on it.