Vehicle access set to be banned at Porirua's Tītahi Bay

Kate Nicol-Williams
Source: 1News

There’s been mixed reaction to Porirua City Council’s decision to ban vehicle access to Tītahi Bay beach, after an increase in reports of dangerous driving on the sand.

Porirua resident Byron Taufao said car parks there are limited so parking up on the beach is convenient, but a small few were ruining it for everyone else.

“It’s kind of stink cause a lot of people just come and park up but there are silly people that come and hoon around on the beach.

“It’s disappointing cause I’ve grown up in Porirua so cars have been on the beach since I can remember but if it keeps everyone safer I’m happy,” he said.

Another parent said people should be educated on driving responsibly on the beach, instead of putting a complete ban in place.

The local council voted in favour of the move as part of a review of their transport bylaw.

Mayor Anita Baker said submissions from the community were nearly even, with slightly more support for the ban.

“With the motorbikes, they are out of control, there was eight on the beach the other night roaring up and down around people and it's not safe,” she said.

“Someone drives onto the beach and then their child gets out of the car, they just run to the water, they don’t look to see if there’s a motorbike coming."

In a press release from Porirua City Council, Ngāti Toa kaumatua Taku Parai agreed that it’s a safety matter.

‘The beach is a taonga. It’s a taonga for the city and for all of the community to go and enjoy,’ he said.

Beach vehicle rules vary greatly around the country, including different exemptions for access.

Driving is allowed on most beaches in areas such as Northland, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, Horowhenua, Gisborne, Southland, Ōpōtiki and Clutha.

Other parts of the country such as Tauranga, Waimakariri and Whakatāne allow access for fishing only, while Auckland, Wellington and Kāpiti have banned beach driving except for at a few specific beaches.

In September, Auckland Council announced further restrictions would be put in place for driving on Muriwai Beach to improve safety and reduce the environmental impact.

Marlborough, Far North District and Gisborne councils are also proposing vehicle access restrictions.

Brake road safety charity Caroline Perry supports councils that are putting restrictions in place.

“What we want to make sure is that vehicles aren’t having the opportunity to interact with other people who are using the beach for recreational purposes and putting those lives at risk as well as the lives of those in the vehicle as well,” she said.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker urged people to be respectful of others who are using the beach recreationally.

“I don’t want anyone hurt particularly in the month before this actually happens so I'd hate to think that we're going to have lots of people racing to the beach now to try and use it before the end of January,” she said.

She said the bylaw is expected to be passed by then.

Kāpiti-Mana area commander Inspector Tracey Thompson said police are working with Porirua City Council.

"We are in planning for the holiday period in Tītahi Bay, which will include increased Police visibility,” she said in a statement.