Where did all the sand go? Has the money dedicated to Kohimarama Beach been washed away? Susan Clephane investigates.

A month before his 90th birthday, Robert Clephane and his wife, Elizabeth — my grandparents — look out at their view of Hauraki Gulf; Rangitoto Island in the background, pohutukawa-lined Tamaki Drive in the foreground.

And, jarringly, in the middle of the scene, is a recently emerged, unpleasant black pipe sticking out of Kohimarama Beach.

Mr Clephane has been coming to Kohimarama Beach since he was a boy.

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Now, well into retirement, he and his wife have enjoyed  13 years living with the beach as their front yard.

In 2004, when the $6 million resanding job was done, the couple was delighted.

"More people came to walk and enjoy the beach, it was much more pleasant," says  Mrs Clephane.

Auckland City Mayor John Banks is particularly proud of the resanding, highlighting it during an interview with

The Aucklander

last month as one of his achievements during his current term in office.

The Clephanes have been impressed with the care Auckland City Council has taken of the beach in the past, keeping it clean and useable.

However, recently, they and others, are wondering about the large, protruding black pipe that has been exposed at the western end of the beach. They've also noticed the sand levels  have dropped again.

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"It was worthwhile to be resanded," says Mr Clephane.

"The beach is so much nicer for people. This black pipe down our end puts people off, however.

"They presume it could have something to do with sewerage, they tend to avoid it, and we've found people prefer going to the other end of the beach where there is more sand."

So, being a helpful granddaughter — as well as a third-year student at the University of Albany in upstate New York, double majoring in journalism and communication — I set out to find answers.

Although some sand has been swept away, it seems the biggest cause of the eyesore is that the pipe has risen.

Auckland City Council parks manager, Mark Bowater, says the black pipe is part of a stormwater system that connects road catch-pits on Tamaki Drive. At the moment there is a fault with the anchor system which has led to the pipe rising above the sand. He says Auckland City Council intends to fix the raised pipe "as soon as possible".

Sands of time

The resanding programme began at Mission Bay in 1996, but has gathered momentum since 2004 when the once-popular bathing beach at Kohimarama was rebuilt with 50,000cu m of deepwater sand taken from the Pakiri coast, north of Warkworth.

Herne Bay and Manukau Harbour beaches were also resanded in July last year.

Unfortunately, because of the winds and currents in the harbour, Kohi Beach has not fared as well as  its resanded neighbours at Mission Bay and St Heliers.

The council monitors the sand levels and, before Labour Weekend every year, repositions sand that has moved. In the last check, the council found 1400cu m of the original 40,000cu m of sand had migrated from the western end of the beach to the east through natural processes. This shifting poses no likelihood of exposing the sea wall.