Property owner who allowed live camera to broadcast surf conditions receives threats

By Solbin Kang

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

The property owner who allowed a webcam to be installed at his holiday homes to broadcast a popular surfing spot, says he has received threats and didn't expect it would cause such an uproar among locals.

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

The website owners approached the owner of three apartments which face the water in March, asking to install the webcam on his property. They offered him a free wireless connection in exchange.

But territorial local surfers not wanting to share the waves with out-of-towners allegedly used black spray paint to cover the lens of the camera and threatened the property owner.

Surf2surf director says he also received a threat, over Facebook, and has complained to police about it, as well as complaining about the vandalism of the camera.

The owner spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity, out of fear of retribution.

"We didn't think for a moment it would cause an uproar," he said.

"Next thing we know, we have calls and threats and damage to our own properties."

He said he didn't know how the vandals reached the camera, which was mounted to the second storey, as it was about 20-feet from the ground.

"It's very very high up. It's not accessible from the ground."

However, he didn't want to "upset the locals".

"I had no idea this would happen," he said.

"I thought it would be good for the area and bring businesses in."

He did not say how he was threatened but said he did not complain to police.

He said he knew of three webcams installed at popular west Auckland beach Piha, and "people got used to it".

Northland mayor John Carter blamed the webcam for the influx of visitors coming to the area.

"Visitors, as a consequence of the webcam, are leaving waste behind, including human waste."

He said Surf2Surf installing the webcam without communicating and discussing with the locals was "disrespectful".

The area had a lack of infrastructure to cope with the influx of people coming to the town.

Mr Carter was now urging Surf2Surf director Paul Brunskill to "come and front up to the locals", even if the webcam was being taken down.

He said access to Shipwreck Bay was through private property, owned by the local iwi, who weren't happy the company was getting financial gain by broadcasting the beach.

Surf2Surf director Paul Brunskill told the Herald, the webcam was only broadcasting to subscribers for a week last month.

While he didn't personally know the "small group" who vandalised the camera, he claimed he knew they were local surfers.

Mr Brunskill said he was in the process of "polling users" to see if their subscribers would still be interested in broadcasting surfing conditions in Shipwreck's Bay.

If there was a strong response, the website would consult the local mayor about installing a webcam in the area.

However if locals and iwi in the area weren't happy with it, he would abandon the idea.

He said he was also willing to launch a campaign with the local mayor to help educate visitors to keep the area tidy.

Kaitaia Police senior sergeant Geoff Ryan confirmed police were investigating Mr Brunskill's complaint about the camera and the Facebook threat.

He said the comment read: "Stop streaming Shippie [Shipwreck's Bay]", accompanied by "bad" language.

"This doesn't mean the threats and the vandalism is linked to the same person but it's a lead."

- NZ Herald

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