Frustrated Ahiparapara (the name used by mana whenua for Ahipara) residents say more needs to be done to help clean up the mess of careless drivers who wreak havoc on their communities.
A blue Holden Commodore, rumoured to have been involved in a police chase last week, was found stranded on Te Kohanga (Shipwreck Bay) on Sunday morning.
The allegedly stolen vehicle was first spotted when a resident posted a photo of it on Facebook.
According to Ahipara Coastal Patrol chairwoman Poppy Yates, resident Maureen Te Paa had called the Far North District Council to report a car floating in the water at Te Kohanga.
She said the matter was also referred to the police, but with delays likely and the car still in the water, locals did not want to leave the car there for a prolonged period of time.
"I'm from that bay and am always concerned about environmental hazards and unfortunately this is not the first time a car has been found in the water," Yates said.
Yates explained her partner, Paul Davies (and owner of a tractor known locally as 'The Big Blue'), was often called to assist with such cases.
She said he and others had therefore gone down to the beach on Sunday morning to retrieve the vehicle.
Thanks to a team effort, the group managed to eventually pull the vehicle out of the water to higher ground.
Yates said it was hugely frustrating for locals to have to rely on their own resources to deal with these types of events, particularly in a timely manner.
She said while she was happy to help look after her local environment, no one was ever compensated for their time or use of their tractors.
Yates said in addition to the car at Te Kohanga, there were also unconfirmed reports that another car was stranded at Mokerau further along the coastline.
Far North District Council confirmed its after-hours contact centre had received three reports of a blue Holden Commodore abandoned in the sea at Shipwreck Bay on Sunday morning.
Each report said the car was already in the water, and two reports indicated the car was stolen. The police were called following each report.
FNDC environmental services manager Rochelle Deane said if a vehicle was confirmed as stolen, responsibility for its removal would normally fall to the police.
"Far North District Council (FNDC) can assist but must take advice from the police as a stolen vehicle may be part of its investigation," Deane said.
"A council officer attended the scene early morning on August 2 and with the assistance of a local resident [and his tractor] the car was safely removed from the beach."
Deane said while the council's after-hours service was available during the weekend, she acknowledged the incident could have been handled better.
She said where a vehicle was in imminent danger of being swamped by the sea or likely to pollute the environment, a towing contractor would be instructed to remove the vehicle from the beach.
"It has highlighted the need for greater clarity and communication between the police, FNDC and Northland Regional Council on which agency takes the lead where there is imminent danger of a vehicle being swamped or likely to pollute the environment.
"We are now reviewing our processes and will be discussing this with other agencies."
NZ Police confirmed police had also received multiple reports regarding an abandoned vehicle at Shipwreck Bay, Ahipara, on Sunday.
Contrary to FNDC's comments, a police spokesperson advised the vehicle had been removed late Sunday afternoon once deemed safe for those involved to do so.
They said inquiries were ongoing into the circumstances of how the vehicle got to be on the beach, as were the nature of events that led to it being there.
"Generally speaking, any report of a stolen vehicle is investigated and someone could expect to be charged with unlawfully taking a vehicle, as it is a criminal offence," the spokesperson said.
"Removal of a vehicle from this sort of location can be complicated due to tides, how long the vehicle has been there, and how submerged it is, which means police and appropriate partners have to wait until an appropriate time when removal is safe.
"Anyone with any information about this particular incident is asked to contact police on 105, quoting file number P051407021.
"Information can also be provided via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."