The residents of the Cape Coast (Clifton, Te Awanga and Haumoana) have had enough of being made the poster boy for coastal erosion simply because Hawke's Bay Today and other media continue to look for new captions for dramatic photos captured at Cape View Corner.

Even the low-sale price of properties in the most at-risk area is an excuse to re-present archive photos of storm surges and king tide swells pounding around long abandoned homes or their damaged interior.

The fact that several gutsy investors have got a bargain should be a cause for celebrating their willingness to become part of a vibrant community determined to trust that those properties will be resilient against occasional storms. They did their homework and knew what they were getting into. Neighbouring properties are being refurbished and still holding their value.

Wet and wild weather poses tangible problems for some properties near Clifton. Photo / File
Wet and wild weather poses tangible problems for some properties near Clifton. Photo / File

Did anyone bother to speak to those plucky, mostly single women, who made that investment? That would be a story.


It's an easy headline and a chance to roll out rhetoric like "one summer left" or it's "too late" for the Clifton Rd seafront, etc. What a lot of utter hype. Repeated again and again with cut and paste comments from previous articles and doomsaying editorialising with little new information or informed commentary from those who have spent the past four years working on a way forward.

Seawalls of all forms are a constant along the Cape Coast. Photo / File
Seawalls of all forms are a constant along the Cape Coast. Photo / File

So many positive things are happening along our coast, including council work on reserves development and landscaping, Te Matau a Maui Art and Heritage Trail interpretive panels and sculptures bringing new life to the cycle track and new subdivisions bringing more families into the area.

During its 10-year existence volunteer community group WOW Inc has put forward various plans for protection of the coast and will continue to work with the joint councils' Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazards process on a proposed groyne field from Cape View Corner down to the existing Tukituki groyne and for the necessary protection at Te Awanga and anywhere else there's vulnerability.

In the interim, WOW believes Hastings District Council needs to urgently protect infrastructure and assets at Cape View Corner including water mains and power, fibre optic cabling, the cycle track (all about 3m from edge) and ultimately the access road to Te Awanga.

WOW sees the Clifton limestone rock revetment wall as the perfect example of what would work at Cape View Corner but at a fraction of the size and cost.

This would fit very well with the current regional council consent for beach scraping along the coast to protect vulnerable areas such as the lagoons.

With built-in beach access for boats and vehicles this would prevent further erosion and provide a very attractive edge and a stepping stone to further protection work, once this has been properly considered, costed and agreed to by councils and the community.

This urgently needed buffer zone would give Local Government New Zealand a sense that Hastings is doing its bit to protect roading and other infrastructure as it must be aware of warnings that councils who do nothing may be penalised.

In the meantime, local reporters need to become far more familiar with the history, progress and processes of the past decade or more, and the positive joint council efforts which have created a template the rest of the country is looking to learn from.

What we have seen over the past few months is sensationalist and lazy journalism that undermines confidence in a much broader plan for the area, and the efforts of those who are working hard to restore confidence in the future.

Keith Newman is chairman of Walking on Water (WOW) Inc