New Zealand's first artificial surf reef now appears to have
been a complete wipe-out, with authorities deciding to remove
the $1.5 million development at Mt Maunganui just a decade
after its construction began.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council today announced it had decided
to remove the reef to reduce risk to swimmers near Tay St,
flagging the end of the controversial and long-running
The reef was hoped to have provide world-class waves for up
to 50 surfers at a time when the concept was touted in the
In August 2000, the Mount Maunganui Reef Trust was granted
resource consent in August 2000 to construct the pilot
offshore submerged reef, about 250 m offshore from the corner
of Tay St and Marine Parade, five minutes drive south of Mt
Maunganui's main beach.
It was to be part of on-going research into artificial reef
development by the University of Waikato, as well as
providing a superior surf break for surfers, but the
structure was never fully completed.
The five-year consent term granted lapsed in 2010 and the
regional council needed to consider options for its future
The council said the reef - built from 2005 to 2008 with
donations from the public and community funding groups - had
"never functioned as intended".
The reef had drawn criticism, with surfers saying it did not
provide the intended surf breaks, and surf lifesaving
organisations concerned it was creating dangerous rips for
The structure was designed by Raglan-based ASR Limited, which
has since gone into liquidation and was also criticised over
its design of the Boscombe surf reef, on the Dorset coast in
"The reef's expected positive effects have not been
realised," council deputy chief executive Eddie Grogan said.
"It's also generated some unforeseen effects, including
creating a large scour hole which affects waves and currents,
increasing the frequency and intensity of rips which pose a
serious risk to swimmers in the popular Tay St area."
The council had commissioned a specialist report to consider
the effects on the beach, swimmer safety, navigation safety,
surfing values, cultural values and ecology.
The review evaluated three options - status quo, removing the
reef and repair and restoration, and recommended removal -
and recommended the reef structure be removed in a staged
Removing the largest geotextile containers at a cost of about
$60,000 would likely eliminate health and safety and
environmental issues, it said.
While the reef trust had told the council it would like to
see the reef completed to achieve its original intent, it was
not in a financial position to maintain, manage, re-consent
or complete it, Mr Grogan said.
The regional council had to consider whether the reef could
be left in its current state, or whether hazard or
environmental issues meant it needed to be repaired or
There were also significant costs involved in leaving the
reef where it was, risks to swimmers at Tay St beach and
adverse environmental effects, Mr Grogan said.
He said repairing the reef could pose more issues, including
altering coastal processes, changing currents and
exacerbating risks to swimmers.
Work was likely to start as soon as possible, following
selection of a preferred contractor and weather conditions
- By Jamie Morton of the New Zealand Herald