A young man who fell from a seawall just south of the commercial fishing wharf at Mangōnui on Sunday afternoon is lucky to be alive, say onlookers.
A witness who saw the incident said the man appeared to have sustained cuts to his face and was in shock, after falling an estimated three metres onto rocks covered in razor-sharp oyster shells.
"He was just waking up when I got there," said the man who preferred to remain anonymous.
"We rolled him over and saw cuts all over his face, head and hands.
"He was in a bad way."
The witness said it was lucky the tide was out, as the fall had knocked the young man unconscious.
"Just a bit of water over those rocks could have drowned him."
Minutes prior to his fall, young children had been running along the edge of the seawall and families strolled through the township in the afternoon sunshine.
One of the first people to reach the scene remarked how he had just failed a building inspection due to his home deck being unfenced.
His 1.1 metre high deck backed onto grass.
The irony of the lack of safety measures in place along the water's edge was not lost on him.
Following an inquest into the death of a woman who fell from the southern end of Waterfront Drive in December of 2021, Coroner Tania Tetitaha said the Far North District Council (FNDC) had a "reasonably practical duty" for public safety.
The northern end of Waterfront Drive, between the grocery store and the wharf, remains unfenced after the completion of a $3.1 million renewal of the majority of the waterfront.
Eddie Aicken, chairman of the Mangōnui Waterfront Facilities Working Group, said the recently completed project was only concerned with the area south of the Mangōnui Four Square.
"That northern area hasn't formed part of the agreement that the Waterfront Working Group has had anything to do with," he said.
"I hope the chap's okay."
According to an FNDC spokesperson, the car parking area between the wharf and the Four Square store was not part of the Mangōnui Waterfront Development.
This was because it was not considered the area of most need following extensive consultation with the community and the Waterfront Working Group.
"Any consideration of installing a safety rail in this area would only be made in consultation with the Mangōnui community," they said.
The spokesperson added that there were plans to build parking for campervans and other large vehicles further north of the wharf and south of the local fish and chip shop.
"This will include safety provisions for pedestrians, although detailed plans are yet to be finalised," the spokesperson said.
"It is possible that safety options for the area between the wharf and Mangōnui Four Square could be considered as part of this project."
The young man, who had previously been seen walking south along the shops at Waterfront Drive with two friends, was alone when he fell at approximately 2.35pm on Sunday.
St John Ambulance confirmed they were notified at 2.40pm and responded with one ambulance.
The man was transported to Kaitāia Hospital with moderate injuries.