Recently Whanganui District Council staff and councillors have been consulting on their Draft Castlecliff Coastal Reserve Plan.
We hope that the fine words in this document translate into positive actions and a change of attitude by all concerned. Not just the mayor, councillors and senior staff, but throughout that organisation, their contractors and the community at large.
For too long the Castlecliff beach and dunes have been seen as the place to dump your rubbish, and trash the native plants.
Often in Castlecliff when we talk about vandals wrecking the coastal vegetation we are thinking of the motorbike riders who tear up and down the tracks through the dunes.
But last week when arriving at the Duncan Pavilion we could see where a digger had been at work. Sand and native sand binding plants had all been cleared away. The Coast Care sign, promoting the planting of the native sand binders spinifex and pingao, now stands alone in a bare patch of sand.
We wonder, did the digger driver read the sign before removing the recommended plants for stabilising the dunes?
No longer can Coast Care folks continue educational talks to new groups of volunteers by stepping outside the pavilion to show these groups the wonderful native sand binding plants.
This is not a one-off incident. Regularly sand cleared off the lower carparks is dumped onto native pingao plants growing at the northern end of the carpark. The first time we complained (loudly), took along photos to the manager of the local contractor, but after a while realised it was a futile exercise.
All those who have been promoting Castlecliff as a great beach to visit for a swim, to watch the sunset or just enjoy a walk on the beach have the insult of sand, dead plant material and bits of rubbish that had accumulated around the Duncan Pavilion now just piled at the south end of the lower carpark.
Just imagine if the same contractors dug an extension to Virginia Lake and then left the dirt and silt sitting in that carpark? What an outcry there would be throughout Whanganui.
Seaweek, held recently, is a national event that is well supported here in Whanganui. Staff and volunteers from the museum, Sarjeant Gallery, DoC, Horizons, Castlecliff Coast Care and Earlham College provide educational sessions for school children. Other people participate in beach clean-ups organised by several groups. Also a family beach sculpture afternoon is organised by Progress Castlecliff's Coast Care group.
Thanks to all those who care enough about our coastal environment to get involved, especially those providing educational opportunities for our young ones, for that may bring the attitudinal changes required.
- Graham and Lyn Pearson are Sustainable Whanganui Trustees and active in Castlecliff Coast Care.