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Large Fine For Rock Seawall

Unlawful activity in the coastal marine area.

A Taranaki based contracting company has been convicted and fined $80,500 in the Huntly District Court for the unlawful construction of a rock seawall at Mōkau in December 2021.

Peter Sole Transport Limited was sentenced on 27 May 2024 by District Court Judge Melinda Dickey on two charges under the Resource Management Act as a result of a prosecution taken by Waikato Regional Council.

“The situation at Mōkau is complex,” said Waikato Regional Compliance Manager, Patrick Lynch.

“In the 1950s a residential development commenced at Te Naunau, a sandspit at the mouth of the Mōkau River. This is an area that has served local iwi as an urupā, or burial ground, for centuries. At the time of subdivision, two sections of land were vested in the Tainui Tribes to remain as urupā. This land is highly significant to iwi and is wāhi tapu.

“The sandspit has been the subject of coastal erosion for the entire period of its development. On occasion, over the decades, there have been individual attempts by landowners to protect their properties by constructing seawalls. Some of these attempts are still evident, but most are ineffective and can actually worsen the erosion.

“Any seawall contruction in the coastal environment has to be well thought out, with appropriate coastal engineering input and the appropriate licenses or consents in place to ensure they are lawful and environmentally sustainable,” said Mr Lynch.

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“In this case, the defendant purchased a section in 2020, knowing it to be at risk of erosion. It neighbours the remaining urupā site. Despite being warned and abated from carrying out unlawful works several times at Mōkau over the last 20 years at differing locations, the defendant chose to use his own company earthmoving equipment to place large boulders at the base of his property and across the front of the urupā. This was done without any consultation or permits to do so.

Overview of the Mōkau sandspit

“This case sends a very clear message to coastal communities that embarking on individual, unlawful and poorly designed structures is not the solution to coastal erosion,” he said.

Judge Dickey enforced this in sentencing by stating:

The prosecution of the defendant has provided general deterrence as it has conveyed the necessary message to the wider community that further prohibited activities at Mōkau will be prosecuted.

Mr Lynch said: “We are aware that the local residents are reinvigorating a community group to collectively and appropriately address the erosion issues at Mōkau. We strongly encourage this.”

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