Peninsula beach project inches closer to reality

Peace and beauty . . . Des Smith admires the tranquility of the Te Rauone beach, Otago Peninsula. PHOTO: ISABELLA HARREX

Today The Star launches an occasional series by guest columnists on local matters. We begin with Des Smith, from the Te Rauone Beach Coast Care Committee.

A call for public submissions on building three rock groynes out from Te Rauone Beach closes on Monday.

The 70m structures are designed to hold sand on Te Rauone Beach.

The building of the groynes and ongoing maintenance of the beach will be the responsibility of Port Otago. Meanwhile, the Dunedin City Council is providing $900,000 to develop the Te Rauone Reserve next to the beach.

Te Rauone Beach has been the backdrop for much of my life and the lives of my family.

It was the early 1950s and I was seven when my parents built a crib at Harington Point.

Together with my wife Raylene and our three children, we continued escaping to this special beach and community for many years.

Work commitments during the 1990s saw us make the difficult decision to sell and, for 20 years, we missed it.

Seven years ago, a property came up for sale in Harington Point and we seized the opportunity to return permanent residents.

Even in our absent years, I was a regular visitor to the beach and my nearby friends. It was over this time that I first noticed the beach deteriorating.

I would boat across from Careys Bay and every time I approached Te Rauone, yet another tree would be lost to the harbour.

It has been over 30 years of deterioration and cannot be attributed to any one factor.

It’s partly the winds sou’wester and nor’wester the impact of shipping and dredging, and of course natural loss.

I’m 75 now. We have 10 grandchildren, aged 3 to 14. I want them to enjoy what we have enjoyed and what their own parents enjoyed.

Long days boating and larking about in the water, fishing with our friends and picnicking on the shore watching the sun go down across the harbour, sandcastles giving way to the tide.

More than 300 submissions have been penned. The message is consistent.

Te Rauone Beach is a very special place Maori culture and tight community, its wildlife, its unique and exposed environment.

But the jewel in the crown be saved.

Not for those of us who have already treasured our time there, but for those who are yet to.

  • Des Smith is part of the Te Rauone Beach Coast Care Committee, alongside Graeme Burns, Edna Stevenson, Tina Owens and Graeme McLean. This group has been driving the Te Rauone Beach Project for several years.