Bucklands Beach erosion – time, tides & politics

Bruce Kendall is determined to stop sand erosion at Bucklands Beach. Times photo Wayne Martin

Erosion may be a slow process but the progress of local bodies to stop it in its tracks can feel slower still.

Although the wheels of Auckland Transport (AT) and Auckland Council are in motion regarding efforts to halt erosion of Bucklands Beach, a sea change is needed, local resident Bruce Kendall contends.

“I have been a little disappointed (to say the least) at the [slow] rate of progress by Council,” the former Olympic board-sailor says.

“If half Lloyd Elsmore Park was unusable by the public for some reason, [local bodies] would move a lot quicker to resolve the situation. But, because the beach has degraded over a long period, people don’t really realise how much they’ve lost.”

The erosion of sand at Bucklands Beach dates back to the 1950s when the road was widened, causing the gradient of the beach to steepen and sand to be carried away by the sea. Works, including restoration of the seawall and implementation of a breakwater, could halt or at least minimise erosion, Mr Kendall believes.

“I’ve put forward the reasons why the beach is deteriorating and how it can be fixed – basically, we need to add sand and stop it from moving. A shallow beach [with a gradual gradient] will build up sand but a steep beach is an eroding one; that’s pretty much it.”

Since the Times spoke to Mr Kendall in November 2017, a report by Tonkin and Taylor has been submitted on the state of local beaches (including Bucklands Beach) but discussion is yet to result in action. Auckland Transport has confirmed, previously, that it plans to rebuild the seawall in the early 2020s, if not sooner should the need arise.

“We had a meeting in December to submit [the report]. AT’s position was that their asset [the road] is stable so it doesn’t require immediate work; my position is that, in the meantime, their asset is taking away the asset of the beach from the public.

“I’ve had meetings with David Collings and Gary Boles from the Howick Local Board, including a site visit, and their reaction was that it’s too expensive and too difficult. But we know they have some discretionary funding and I think they (as well as Auckland Transport) should be putting money aside for this.”

The wheels of local government may seem to turn slowly but ‘people power’ can ensure they don’t grind to a halt altogether, Mr Kendall adds.

“I’d advise everyone to take a look at the [Bucklands Beaches Restoration and Upgrade Project] Facebook page for more information and lobby Council. These beaches belong to all of us and we need to insist something is done to restore them.”