Coastal Wetland In Coromandel
Birds who have made their home on newly flooded wetlands in McGregor Bay, are struggling to raise their chicks after a controversial unconsented tidal gate was reinstated by the council.
The tidal gate has been a cause of concern for the community for many years and a point of disagreement among divided neighbouring landowners, some want the wetland to have unimpeded flow, another feels that it would impact on part of their cattle paddock.
The gate was removed in August by person/s unknown.
Alan Tiplady, TCDC district manager north, said: “This is an act of deliberate damage to a council asset and as such has been reported to the police for investigation to ensure those responsible are held to account for their actions.”
He said the gate was reinstated under the emergency provisions of the Resource Management Act due to the inundation of seawater over adjoining properties which required immediate preventative measures. Consent for the new gate has now been lodged with Waikato Regional Council.
Meanwhile local landowners Philippa and Bob Medlock and neighbour Julie Sargisson have joined forces to try and revert parts of the low-lying paddocks back to wetland. Creating coastal habitat is rare in New Zealand but that is their aim.
The Medlocks deployed diggers on their own land to remove years of hump and hollow contours to create a small wetland. They also removed willows and non-native trees. However this resulted in an incident report being lodged with Waikato Regional Council. An abatement notice, fines and a warning was issued under the RMA.
The results of this work however came fast as the land transformed to a wetland. Heron numbers increased and pied stilts arrived and started breeding.
But in a blow to those keen to reinstate the wetland by reversing past drainage works, Waikato Regional Council has just told the group that breaches of the Resource Management Act by Thames Coromandel District Council which carried out drainage work on the reserve in 2014 has now reached a time limit and will not be investigated further.
The Medlocks and Julie Sargisson, together with McGregor Bay Wetland Society, Forest and Bird and Roy Fraser, who originally made the land as a reserve back in 1988, all want the tidal gate to be removed. They are also backed by Patukirikiri Iwi who want to see restoration. The decision around the gate is awaited from Waikato Regional Council.
Meanwhile the Wetland Society is planning to install a boardwalk and a bird hide with money raised from fundraising. The Medlock are also happy to back footpaths for pedestrians to enjoy the wetlands and give safe passage along the road. Julie Sargisson hopes her bottom paddock will revert to wetland.
Carol Sutherland of the wetland society, said a baseline ecological report has been commissioned by the society, a trapping network set up and the group continues to lobby for the wetland.
She added: “The wetland issue is not conveniently going away, even though pro wetland folk have no expensive lawyer on speed dial. Because the reserve is a Common Marine and Coastal Area, it shouldn’t be an orphan with nobody sticking up for it. With the Medlocks and Julie on board the greater wetland just got bigger.