New Zealand: Officials Plan to Remove Mount Maunganui Reef

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has decided the Mount Maunganui surf reef is to be partially removed to remove the risk to swimmers near Tay Street.

Regional Council Deputy Chief Executive Eddie Grogan said the Mount Maunganui Reef Trust obtained resource consent in August 2000 to construct the pilot offshore submerged reef about 250 m offshore from the Tay Street/Marine Parade corner.

It was to be part of on-going research into artificial reef development by the University of Waikato, as well as providing a superior surf break for surfers, however the structure was never fully completed.

The five year consent term granted lapsed in 2010 and the Regional Council, as RMA regulator, needed to consider options for its future management.

The $1.5 million artificial reef, built from 2005 to 2008 with donations from the public and community funding groups, has never functioned as intended and was criticised by surfers and the public. The reef has attracted criticism, with surfers saying it did not provide the intended surf breaks, and surf lifesaving organisations concerned it was creating dangerous rips for swimmers.

The reef’s expected positive effects have not been realised. It’s also generated some unforeseen effects, including creating a large scour hole which affects waves and currents, increasing the frequency and intensity of rips which pose a serious risk to swimmers in the popular Tay Street area,” Mr Grogan said.

Repairing the reef could pose more issues, including altering coastal processes, changing currents and exacerbating risks to swimmers, Mr Grogan said.

Work is likely to start as soon as possible, following selection of a preferred contractor and weather conditions permitting.

Press Release, April 17, 2014

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