Contact Channel Magazine

GUNDRY'S GRUMBLES with Simon Gundry

We do have a problem, a serious problem...

 I’ve lived and worked on the North Shore all my life, and indeed it is one of the most beautiful and wonderful places to live in the world.  We all take a lot of pleasure and pride in our beaches, our lake and parks and recreational areas, which are abundant.

No matter where you are on the North Shore, there is normally a view of the Hauraki Gulf and the outlying islands to entice us to explore, clean waters to fish in, dive under or swim in.  A paradise for children, parents and grandparents alike.  No child of the North Shore should ever be allowed to say they are bored, as right on the doorstep is a paradise that the majority of the world’s population would kill for to live in.

But we do have a problem, a serious problem.  I could almost call it the Chernobyl of the Shore and it is of serious concern to me and to the residents of this area.

It is the lower part of the Wairau Creek, mainly the areas between the intersection of Kitchener and East Coast Road, situated to the North West of the Milford Town Centre and the coastline of the eastern beaches, mainly Castor Bay and Milford beaches.

I’d like to draw attention to the seriousness of the ever growing silt build up problem that has now created both an ecological, and environmental health and safety risk to the human, animal, bird and marine life that live either nearby or are even using these waterways and surrounding banks.  Toxins that are given off from ever mounting silt are as poisonous as that of asbestos in its present state.

Clearly what has happened over the period of recent years is that developments up the valley, either with new subdivisions, roading improvements, or just an ever increasing population has released huge quantities of silt and related materials that have progressively overpowered the stream’s ability to cope.  Milford Stream is no longer fulfilling its role as a stream and has changed its character to become a deposit for deep, smelly mud.  It has brought an end to fish life in the stream and is now a growing hazard to the health of nearby residents and to the usefulness of Milford Marina and its boats.

The bund located at the junction of Inga, Beach and Commodore Parry Roads and adjacent to the reserve has long become progressively overwhelmed by events like road works, residential and commercial development further up the Wairau watershed basin.  Clearly watershed supervision and maintenance has failed to contain this problem, much less resolve it.  Not only does the problem have quite distressing environmental features, but the almost septic nature that the silt overflow has reached has serious health implications.  And all this right under the very noses of those who have believed Milford Reserve and waterfront were features of which our community should be proud. 

There are many sports groups, picnic parties, marina owners, school gatherings that note with concern the unpleasant smells now coming from what we could now call “The stream that was”.  I know from impeccable sources that a major open air film evening arranged by the Council last February, which attracted a large gathering of interested and eager people had lost many of its audience before the film had finished, the reason being the stench from the stream had become too unpleasant. 

This situation no longer is a matter for consideration for the future, it is a matter of extreme urgency and needs to be acted on now.  I know there is huge support from local residents, business operators, the Milford Residents association, the Milford Business association, boat owners and sports clubs.  I have great concerns that the draft budget has no consideration for addressing the problem of the silt, and this I think is diabolical.

We all know that there is a development planned of some proportion for the future development of the Milford Town Centre,  we are also aware that there are some proposals such as a possible boardwalk through the mangroves, but unfortunately there are no practical solutions to fixing the problem the Milford community are currently faced with. 

The answer is pretty simple, the way I see it.  Firstly remove all the toxic silt that currently lies within the Creek, then find a solution to trap the silt that travels down the stream all parts of the year.

We could also construct a footbridge to the northern side of Inga Road as there used to be in the 1930’s and 40’s when the old pirate ship was such a focal point for social gatherings.  And, really we could also use Mother Nature to deal with the flushing of our marine cove that we are so lucky to have at our very own doorstep.

The local board needs to promote this very serious ecological and environment problem to the Super city council and not let go until they act responsibly.  We all believe very strongly about keeping our environment clean and green as this is typically the Kiwi way.  The Auckland Council should do what is right and fix what is their responsibility and that is to direct all stormwater safely into the sea and not turn their backs on what is extremely important to the welfare of our community.

I hope the City Council has enough common sense to act immediately and responsibly to my call to salvage our environment from turning into a wasteland that humans, animals, birds and marine life cannot use again in the future.

Major health and environmental problems cannot be ignored indefinitely and must be addressed immediately.  This is not just a Milford problem, it is an issue for all of us.

Maybe if the Council had not spent the ten million dollars on the “Len Brown Library” that has been forced on the community of Devonport and channelled that money into the cleaning up of the Milford Creek then I’m sure our society would have been a lot happier. 

by Simon Gundry