'We need help out here'

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An incident on New Year's Day has added to the pressure being applied to Northland MP Mike Sabin to provide a 30km/h speed limit on the beach at Ahipara, and he in turn is keeping the heat on the Far North District Council.

A local resident has told Mr Sabin that she had been "subject to some local hoons" when she tried to tell them that they were endangering birds within the sanctuary that was established on the beach in the Kaka Street access area late last year.

"They played chicken with me, that is they came at me on their quads," she said.

"I am 65 years old and do not need this.

"The police came out but could not enforce anything because, as they say, there is no law to be enforced.

"Where do we go from here? We certainly need some help out here."

Her husband, she added, was ready to head for the beach with his baseball bat, but that would only get him into trouble.

Another resident said he and his family had been subjected to the continuous roar of bikes and quads on the beach for at least two hours on January 2.

"We are literally being driven crazy," he said.

"Some of us are in the early stages of depression. Something needs to be done urgently.

"We, the law-abiding residents, feel we have been betrayed and abandoned by the inaction of the local police. For God's sake, someone do something, please."

Mr Sabin said he was keen to do something, but responsibility for imposing traffic restrictions ultimately rested with the Far North District Council, which had yet to enact a bylaw, as requested by local residents and Te Oneroa a Tohe governance "board in waiting."

The council appeared to be receptive to the proposal of a speed limit, but had so far declined to act, on the basis that to do so now would be to pre-empt the board, which has yet to be legally established (as part of the Treaty settlement process with Te Rarawa and other iwi). Haami Piripi, acting as chairman of the 'board in waiting,' had formally requested late last year that a speed limit be imposed, however.

"The response from the council to me is that despite the request from Haami, as chairman of the board, it will not recognise the interests of iwi in (the board's) governance status until it is fully legislated," Mr Sabin said.

"I see no good reason in the circumstances to hold this position, and have requested that, at a minimum, they put a 30km/h bylaw in place in the interim, to be ratified by the legislatively-constituted governance board when the Bill is passed into law. That's not likely to happen until the latter part of this year.

"I fail to see why the FNDC refuses to acknowledge the concerns of locals and iwi now. Passing a Bill is not necessary to do this," he added.

"The responsibility for this decision, and consequences of failing to act, will ultimately be theirs to explain."

- Northland Age

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