Though they do not look like it, each beach is a road and that means road rules apply.

On Horowhenua beaches the maximum speed for vehicles is 30km/h and every vehicle (including dune buggies and ATVs) need a valid registration, and a warrant of fitness. ATV riders and motorcyclists also need to wear a helmet.

"It is often a game of cat and mouse," said Foxton Beach Warden and Community Patrol volunteer Anthonie van Rijn. "Problem people shift around when they realise the community patrol is around."

Patrollers and their vehicles are easily identifiable.

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Foxton Beach also started a community patrol last year in response to the closure of the community police station a few years ago.

"The Foxton Beach Progressive Association surveyed residents' concerns and found that safety and security were high on their lists of priorities," said Van Rijn.

"There are a lot of big sections here and a lot of low income people including over 65s who have no money for sophisticated alarm systems."

Foxton Beach's bech warden Anthonie van Rijn behind the wheel of his patrol vehicle.
Foxton Beach's bech warden Anthonie van Rijn behind the wheel of his patrol vehicle.

Other concerns the association recorded include speeding on the beach and while he said most residents go about their daily lives minding their own business, when they do report misconduct their information lacks crucial details such as car number plates. This means any complaints do not go anywhere.

In August 2018 the national body of the community patrol turned up in Foxton Beach and six people wanted to sign on immediately. The local team now has 18 patrollers and two 4WD vehicles, a welcome boost for the Beach Wardens who now number five volunteers.

The Beach Wardens will therefore soon become part of the Community Patrol but will still be patrolling the beach independently.

Warning signs are clear on Foxton Beach.
Warning signs are clear on Foxton Beach.

Beach Wardens are now too few in number while crime on the beaches is increasing.

"There are burnt out car wrecks on the beach, people dump rubbish there, and light fires in the wrong place. Some seem to think anything goes."

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He said the work of the Beach Wardens was unstructured, so joining up with Community Patrol will breathe new life into their presence. They are only the eyes and ears of the police, passing on information to the police who alone can act on it.

"If good people keep quiet, bad people run riot," he said. "We remain at a safe distance and are non-confrontational. And if there are real problems people still need to contact the police."

Driving on the beach is like driving on the road: the same rules apply.
Driving on the beach is like driving on the road: the same rules apply.

Big issues on the beach are speeding and fires. At the entrance of the beaches are plenty of signs spelling out the rules ... though many seem to feel they can ignore them, as a young man on an unregistered motorbike, riding without a helmet, close to children, demonstrated.

Van Rijn presented him with a list of do's and don't's on the beach and he and his bike quickly returned to his vehicle in the carpark.

You Cars Ltd in Palmerston North (signwriting), a lotteries grant for three years, funding from Te Awahou Lions as well as money from the Easter Fair Committee are making the combined patrol possible for Foxton Beach.