Flaxes on regenerating land near the Ōtaki River estuary have been flattened by someone who has driven what was most likely a 4-wheel-drive vehicle across the land.
Plants have been knocked down and ripped out, with the perpetrators leaving deep wheel ruts in the wet ground (photo at right).
One local who walks regularly in the area and did not want to be named has called those responsible “vandals”.
“They’ve gone in there and ripped up a key ecosystem,” he says. “They’ve made a hell of a mess. They’re just vandals.”
He suggested the drive into what would have been a secluded area might have been part of illicit activity, which has been the source of local rumour recently.
A member of the Friends of the Ōtaki River, Barbara Simons, says it’s frustrating for organisations such as the Friends to be putting in so many hours of work over many years, and have damage done within what would have been only minutes.
She says it can take a long time to get permission from Greater Wellington Regional Council and Kāpiti Coast District Council to do even small things, “but then it can be destroyed in no time”.
She says the flax will grow again, but it will take a while.
The area was 30 or more years ago a wasteland. The old Ōtaki Borough Council even operated a rubbish tip near the mouth of the Ōtaki River.
It’s now regenerating naturally, supported by big areas of plantings by the Friends of the Ōtaki River, and work by the two councils. A viewing platform and walkway make it an attraction for visitors and locals to enjoy the coastal scenery.
When the recent damage was noticed, the Friends discussed ways of mitigating the risk of further destruction by having gates that could be locked at night. However, it was agreed that the area should remain open to everyone.
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