Keo Morrison (4) rolls along the St Clair Esplanade on his skateboard with other local surfers and skateboarders looking on. Photo by Dan Hutchinson.
A long tradition of skateboarding at St Clair Esplanade is
about to get a final nail in the coffin from the Dunedin City
Council. Star reporter Dan Hutchinson talks to local board
riders of all ages and finds a growing dismay at the loss of
an important part of their culture.
Surfers and skateboarders say a skateboarding bylaw at St
Clair Esplanade is ''way over the top'' and are staking a
claim for their right to roll up and check out the waves.
Skateboarding along the Esplanade has been targeted by
various Dunedin City Council bylaws since the early 1990s. It
was banned in 2005.
The latest proposed change to the bylaw would mean children
under 14 years old could have their board confiscated, and
pay $50 to get it back. Previously, they faced no penalty
because they were too young.
President of the South Coast Boardriders Club, which has its
headquarters at the Esplanade, Craig Higgins said he had not
noticed large groups of skateboarders there since he was a
teenager in 1994 or 1995, when skateboard ramps were banned.
''I have always found that the skateboard culture is part of
the surf culture. You are just rolling down there, getting a
little bit of practice to warm your legs up, or to go check
out the waves.''
Mayor Dave Cull said the latest bylaw still had to come
before the council on August 18 and it was ''definitely not
in place yet''.
He said there was still a possibility the St Clair ban could
even be relaxed but that was a decision for the council.
He had responded to a letter from the group opposing the ban,
saying they should make their views known at the public forum
before the council meeting.
''It may be that council looks at it and says we won't apply
it at St Clair but it is still valid somewhere else. Anything
is possible in that regard. It is definitely not in place
Mr Higgins said skateboards were no different from being on a
bike or scooter or any other form of transport and it made
more sense to ban cars from the part of the Esplanade where
there were no car parks.
St Clair surfer Richard Wingham said he and his children
skateboard down ''every day to check out the surf''.
''It is our main form of transport. It is part of the healthy
life for our kids that we want.''
He said other cities embraced skateboarding along the
beachfront, such as at Tamaki Dr in Auckland where ''everyone
is moving around on skates and it is a happening part of
Mr Cull said the changes to the laws were to allow police to
deal with problem skateboarders in the central city, where
there were also banned areas.