Farmers help remove red algae from Waipu

By Kristin Edge

Farmers worked together to clear a stretch of beach at Waipu Cove of red algae that had accumulated. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Farmers worked together to clear a stretch of beach at Waipu Cove of red algae that had accumulated. Photo / Michael Cunningham

A digger, tractors and heavy-duty trailers combined with community goodwill to move a rotting red mess from the white sands of Waipu Cove.

Four farmers from the area put their work on hold yesterday morning to help move tonnes of red algae that had accumulated on the beach over the last few weeks.

The red tide began on Christmas Eve and since then there had been a steady build-up of the algae, which washed ashore and started to decay and smell in the hot summer sun.

A resource consent was triggered on Monday after a meeting between a Northland Regional Council coastal monitoring officer, Camp Waipu Cove manager Anton Trist along with chairman of the Waipu Cove Reserve Board, John Henderson.

Photo / Michael Cunningham
Photo / Michael Cunningham

Mr Trist said it was agreed the amount of algae on the beach warranted removal and the smell had increased while day visitor numbers to the area had appeared to drop.

"Normally the reserve area is crowded but with the smell coming from the river, it's meant people have carried on down the beach or gone to another beach all together," Mr Trist said.

The clean-up began on Tuesday with Aaron MacAulay using a bobcat to move the red algae into piles along the beach, which took about six hours and covered a stretch of beach about 800m long.

Yesterday at 9am a digger and four tractors pulling large trailers began the task of removing the red mess.

Digger driver Paul Jenkins and farmers Paul Jensen, Stuart Abercrombie, Craig Roberts and Brendan Cullen made quick work of the removal in about 18 loads. The sand was taken to a council-approved site in a paddock along the road.

Photo / Michael Cunningham
Photo / Michael Cunningham

"Without these guys we wouldn't have been able to do it," Mr Trist said.

"There's still some in the tide and there's going to be a bit left on the beach but we will remove a majority of it."

Waipu Cove Reserve Board chairman John Henderson said the cost of yesterday's operation would amount to about $4000 but nowhere near the $16,000 price tag for last summer's clean-up.

The farmers would be compensated for their diesel.

Photo / Michael Cunningham
Photo / Michael Cunningham

He acknowledged the sacrifice they had made to the community for the clean-up.

The reserve board manages the Department of Conservation reserve and the camping ground. The money generated from the campground is used to cover the clean-up costs.

Mr Henderson said the algae forced beachgoers north along the beach and often outside the area patrolled by lifeguards.

- Northern Advocate

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