The road to Te Kohanga was closed on Saturday, although anyone who wasn't planning to ride on the dunes was welcome to pass.

A threatened invasion of motorcyclists, whose stated intention was to 'Take back the beach', did not eventuate at Ahipara on Saturday. And they would have been out of luck if they had turned up.

Police were well prepared for any breach of the peace, while locals erected a gate at the top of the road down to Te Kohanga on Friday, and remained on duty there throughout Saturday.

Apart from a pair from Okaihau, complete with bikes, who they suspected were acting as 'scouts', they didn't have much to do, and the mood throughout the day remained cheerful, but determined.


It wasn't clear last week whether the protest, announced on social media in response to Te Rarawa's fencing off of some of the dunes west of Te Kohanga to protect them from further damage, and/or in recognition of their cultural significance, would take place or not.

According to rumour it had been cancelled, although police suspected that it had merely been taken off Facebook. More than 80 people had said they would take part, and another 400-plus said they were interested, before the post was deleted.

Meanwhile the gate was manned on Friday night, when a couple of camper vans were turned away, through to 1am on Saturday, but the road remained open to locals, and anyone who wanted to go fishing, surfing, or make use of the beach in any other way that would not threaten the dunes.

The defenders of the dunes were back at 8am on Saturday, and had little to do. There hadn't been a great deal of traffic, they said, but there had been a "lot of communicating".

Senior Sergeant Russell Richards said extra police staff were on duty in Kaitaia and at Ahipara to talk to locals and out-of-towners arriving on bikes, while traffic staff from Auckland north were monitoring the behaviour of riders heading Ahipara's way. They were prepared to urge each side to "understand the other's concerns and have adult conversations about the reasons for the fencing".

He put any tension over the issue down to miscommunication and social media posts telling Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi said the iwi would be staging an overnight rally of its own on the beach, with a barbecue and a wananga encouraging young people to get involved in looking after the land.

The iwi intended to avoid conflict, and would leave any incidents for the police to resolve.

"A lot of people think we're fencing off the beach, but we're not. The areas we've fenced are areas we don't go to ourselves, and we don't want others to," Mr Piripi said.
People would still be able to drive on the beach and around to Tauroa Point.