A handful of Remuera residents are trying to line up a facelift for their beach. Sophie Bond is shown the plans.

The crane driver lowers a huge mechanical vice and clamps it over the top of a thick metal piling. A generator roars into life and the earth trembles as the vice shakes violently and slowly extracts the piling from the muddy tidal flat.

The noise is tremendous, but Bruce Renshaw beams. He beams a lot. He's a glass-half-full bloke.

We're at Wilson's Beach in Hobson Bay watching the crane dismantle the causeway that runs parallel to the shore. To our left is the northern tip of Saint Kentigern College's grounds, and a brand new promenade leading to a boardwalk. To our right, a shell-speckled mudflat and, in the distance, a wooden jetty.


Still smiling, Mr Renshaw describes what the Wilson's Beach action group hopes will happen. "Our principal concern is to have Wilson's Beach, from here to the jetty, restored to its former glory."

The causeway was built to enable removal of the old, above-ground sewerage pipe and installation of a new one underground between Okahu Bay and Parnell.

Now that the leaky eyesore is gone, Mr Renshaw hopes Auckland Council will continue works in the area.

"We've seen resanding in Mission Bay, St Heliers and now Judges Bay. It would be great to see it here, too. We're hopeful we can have 20 to 30m of sand going out and we'll start to get people coming to enjoy it."

He pulls a large, aerial photograph from his bag, showing how the spot looked 70 years ago: a strip of sandy beach and just a tiny patch of mangroves.

"There's a lot of historical importance in this area. They used to have rowing and yachting regattas here in the 1880s. We'd love to have a regatta here again."

Since presenting an eight-point action plan to the former Auckland City Council in September, the Wilson's Beach action group has successfully lobbied for a redundant section of boardwalk to be removed and repairs have begun on the crumbling stone wall. Next on the wish-list are resanding and planting of native trees along the promenade.

Auckland Council communications advisor Suzanne Stickney says it is likely any council funding for further work on Wilson's Beach will come via the new Orakei local board.


Desley Simpson, member elect of the board, says budgets have been earmarked for the completion of legacy projects and the board will take applications from February 2011 for new projects seeking funding.

"We are dependent on the council decisions, and we'll be lining up for funding along with everyone else, but we're talking of it as our 2011 project," says Mr Renshaw optimistically.

Paper trail

The beach is named after Joseph Liston Wilson who, along with his father and brother, helped to found

The New Zealand Herald

. His 1880s' home is now one of Saint Kentigern College's buildings.