Tensions at breaking point over whitebait spot

By Jordan Bond -
10 comments
Bradie Alabaster, 39, his daughter Taylor and friend Curtis Parker in front of the whitebaiting hut on Upokongaro Creek. Photo/Stuart Munro
Bradie Alabaster, 39, his daughter Taylor and friend Curtis Parker in front of the whitebaiting hut on Upokongaro Creek. Photo/Stuart Munro

A community stoush over a whitebaiting hut on the Upokongaro Creek is threatening to boil over into vigilante action.

Bradie Alabaster said a local has threatened to burn down his hut after he failed to remove it following council orders.

Mr Alabaster built the 3 square metre hut on the bank earlier this year for shelter and equipment storage but without getting council consent.

A local resident complained about the structure to the council, which told Mr Alabaster to remove the hut or face legal action.

Mr Alabaster said the complaint is outrageous.

"It's not an eyesore. [The complainant] can't even see it unless she's right at the back of her property," he said. "She came down and said 'we're burning it down.'

"I'm going to fight for it. I will go to court for it if I need to. At the end of the day, that hut's staying there."

Mr Alabaster said he has plans to remove the hut at the end of the season.

However a local resident, who didn't wish to be named, said the hut had been built without any consent or consultation and had frustrated locals.

"I think it should come down. They didn't ask anyone if they could build it. It looks very permanent and they're building a deck around it. It's not meant to be there."

The resident said other locals had expressed their disapproval of the hut and said Mr Alabaster had been rude to some of them.

Avoca Hotel owner Pat Tasker, whose pub is just up the road said: "I've got no problems with it."

Mr Alabaster said his family had been whitebaiting in the creek for five generations and he wanted to pass on the tradition to his six-year-old daughter, Taylor.

"It's just about me and my daughter whitebaiting. It goes back generations. [The complainant] just doesn't understand."

Mr Alabaster's friend Curtis Parker said: "We're just here to put a bit of kai on the table... harming nobody."

"At the end of the day it's for the next generation."

Whanganui District Council building control team leader Greg Hoobin said the hut is constructed on designated road reserve land and as such requires permission from the local authority for any activity.

"The structure may also require resource consent and building consent approval and does not meet the criteria for an exemption under Schedule 1 of the Building Act.

"Council officers have asked Mr Alabaster to remove the structure."

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