Live camera sparks surf wars

By Corazon Miller, Scott Yeoman

Ahipara is a mecca for surfers. Photo /  Francis Malley
Ahipara is a mecca for surfers. Photo / Francis Malley

A turf war has broken out at a much-loved Kiwi surf break over a camera broadcasting surf conditions. It has been taken offline and threats allegedly made to locals who hosted the camera on their property.

Sports website Surf2Surf has recently been broadcasting live footage from Ahipara's Shipwreck Bay for its subscribers.

But the camera was this week switched off after it was vandalised and the family who had hosted it at their holiday home allegedly threatened.

Surf2Surf director Paul Brunskill said the camera situation was becoming "dangerous".

"It was grossly unfair what has happened, especially when you consider the [homeowners'] background and contributions to the community," he told the Herald on Sunday.

Brunskill believed members of the surf community were behind the vandalism and alleged threats.

"They don't want to share their waves," he said.

Police have been notified.

Many in the local community have expressed their concerns, publicly and privately, about the camera.

They reportedly believe it would lead to unwanted crowds at the bay, citing a lack of infrastructure to handle an influx of new arrivals.

Local surf officials said they did not know who was responsible for the intimidating behaviour, but confirmed their opposition to the camera.

North Country Boardriders Club committee member Paul Hansen told the Herald on Sunday there was "absolutely no" infrastructure in the area where the camera had been set up, including a lack of toilets, rubbish bins and drinking water.

"It [would] put pressure on what is already quite a fragile environment and a very dynamic environment - as any coastal area is," he said. "We have no idea, as a board-riders club, who vandalised that camera."

He said he could not think of anyone who could have threatened the family.

He said the camera could also attract fishermen and motorbike riders to the bay, and that over-fishing and motorbikes were already a problem there.

Hansen stressed surfers weren't being greedy and supported growth in the area.

But Surf2Surf director Paul Brunskill disagreed on the basis that the camera was only open to a small number of subscribers.

The Herald on Sunday sought comment from police and Far North District mayor John Carter. Neither returned calls last night.

- Herald on Sunday

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