Te Rauone solution suggested

The Maori owners of many of the erosion-affected properties at Te Rauone, near Dunedin, have proposed a solution they hope will attract a larger Dunedin City Council investment in a protective breakwater off the harbour beach.

Te Rauone Incorporation has written an open letter to councillors saying it would take ownership of the groyne once built, so the council would not have to worry about maintenance or liability.

However, the group would like the council to contribute more towards the groyne's construction.

Te Rauone Incorporation owns many properties in the area, which are leased to long-term residents.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said he had not seen the letter, but greeted the idea as a ''very constructive'' one, and said it would be something councillors would have to decide in light of budget deliberations and beside a staff review of the situation, now being completed.

The issue of who pays for and then ultimately owns a groyne has become a thorny one in the light of council seeking further information about the possible implications of ownership. Residents have been seeking a solution to the erosion problem for more than 10 years, and say a groyne is the best option, but are upset at what they say is continued council stalling on a commitment.

Mr Cull said with no regulatory responsibility there, the council's interest in the area was solely as a landowner of a reserve that made up a portion of the erosion-affected coastline.

However, one of the reasons for the council's continued questions about the plan, was why, as only one of the landowners affected, it was being asked to take ownership of the wall, he said.

He hoped the group would make a submission on the draft annual plan when submissions opened.

The proposal would be considered alongside a staff report in the matter, due in March.

At this stage it is proposed the council contributes a maximum of $50,000 to the building of the wall. Mr Cull said he could not think of a precedent where the council had paid for something and then handed it over to someone else, but could not see why that should not happen.

The letter, from the Te Rauone Incorporation's management committee, said it was not happy with the council's initial indication it would contribute only $50,000 to the building of the wall. It said at least $95,000 was required.

The organisation had already offered to pay $95,000.

Te Rauone residents felt that, as ratepayers, they did not get as much for their rates as city dwellers, and were just looking for a helping hand, the letter said.

The group planned to meet in March and call on the more than 250 Maori owners to consider how the matter was progressing and what action to take.

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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