Interview with a Boatie
A popular topic for discussion on the island lately has been about the situation down at Okahaiti Creek, known locally as “The Causeway”.
The tragic death of one man and the severe injury of another recently has led to a lot of people claiming that something needs to be done.
But what is that something?
I had a chat to Bernard Rhodes. A Committee Member of the Waiheke Boating Club, (and Trustee of Waiheke Working Sail), and I asked him some questions about the facilities at the causeway, the live-aboard community, and the changes coming about due to the unitary plan.
Bernard has salt in his veins, has a history with boats going back to when he was 7 years old, and has many stories to tell. Ask him some time.
My conversation with Bernard was, fittingly, on a boat, albeit a Fullers ferry into town, and we talked about the situation at the Causeway, and what he thinks should be done.
Why are the Okahuiti Creek facilities important to Waiheke?
The bay is sheltered and a safe place to moor small craft.The ‘live-aboards’ are an iconic part of the Waiheke identity, part of the social fabric of the island, and a real community. Not one without it’s problems, but a community nonetheless.
Are the current uses of the causeway polluting?
What about the live-aboards? What are the issues there?
The live-aboards are not putting waste into the sea, they either have self contained toilets or use the council ones. Or both. There’s no issue of human waste getting into the bay.
Their boats may not be in the best condition, many choose to live on boats due to limited options for housing on land, and many struggle with the upkeep of their boats, and they may become visually unappealing to some people, but in many cases, it’s nothing a good water blast couldn’t fix.
The two big issues affecting the live-aboard community are the anti-social behaviour of no more than three of the residents, and the issue of rubbish collection.
There is no scheduled rubbish collection to this area, and as such, the two council provided bins at the bus stop are almost always overflowing, which is unsightly. Council is soon to remove these bins.
The other aspect of this is the inorganic collection, only once every two years. The live-aboard community are very resourceful, and are often able to extend the life of items they use for many years, but still the issue of rubbish building up over time diminishes the utility and appearance of the area
What needs to change down there?
Some physical changes need to be made to the area so that the boating club can comply with the new bylaws coming into place in the new year.
The Waiheke Boating Club doesn’t have a lease with council over the area, which is distressing, and has has been trying to get one for 20+ years!
A seawall is also needed, to help support the stability of the causeway, and a boardwalk on the edge would re-engage the wider community with their bay.
Paul Walden has met with the Boating Club on this issue and wants Auckland Council to build this wall, but Council’s willingness to spend any money at the moment is compromised
What else needs to change?
With boats moored here, no one can get in or out of the haul-out area, or move at any time other than high tide.As well as that, any moorings outside of this envelope would require resource consent, which he described as ‘death by a thousand cuts’ to the people moored there currently, especially considering some of those moorings have been present for over 35 years.
In Bernard’s proposed arrangement, the channel would remain clear, moorings allowed outside of the channel on either side, and access to the haul-out being available at all times.
Bernard also proposes a 10metre clear area on the beach near the playground, (marked in purple) to keep the beach free to walk along, free of dangerous Waratahs and anchors, and would require the live-aboards who currently run gangplanks to that area to remove them from the playground.