A Coromandel monument marking the visit of Captain Cook to New Zealand has fallen into the sea, highlighting the area's problems with erosion, a local says.
Captain Cook visited the area in Mercury Bay, in November 1769, anchoring off what is now known as Cooks Beach, near Whitianga.
The British explorer spent a few days in the bay to observe the transit of Mercury - an event that was later commemorated with an inscription on a cairn of Coromandel granite.
However, the memorial toppled into the sea today after lapping waves ate away at the land it sat on, local resident Danny Phillips says.
"The road behind this memorial will be the next to be damaged or lost if nothing is done," he said.
"While the monument itself is not critically important it is a symbol and trigger point that will wake people up to a lack ownership around this significant issue."
He believes the Thames-Coromandel District Council could have been done more to save the monument and the bank of land it sat on.
"People around here have been letting them know for some time the erosion has been getting bad," he said.
"The only thing we've seen is some safety stakes and safety netting put up so people couldn't walk off the side."
A council spokeswoman said teams had been working to save the monument, but they had been restricted to using so-called "soft" techniques to reinforce the land because the erosion did not threaten private property or a road.
These involved efforts to regenerate the dune systems with sand "push-ups" and the planting of native plants to hold the soil together.
The erosion had come up relatively fast in the last few months and affected an about 100-150 metre stretch of coast, the spokeswoman said.
But it was still almost 10m from the road behind the monument.
If the erosion directly threatened the road or private property, council would investigate using a "hard" structure, such as a rock-timber wall to halt it, she said.