Oreti Beach MOU officially signed

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the management of Oreti Beach, which will enable local organisations to more effectively protect the beach, was officially signed today.

Representatives of the Department of Conservation, Environment Southland, Invercargill City Council (ICC), Southland District Council, Ministry of Primary Industries, New Zealand Police, and Waihopai Runaka signed the memorandum which outlines the duties of each organisation to reduce the disturbance to sand dunes and toheroa beds, and littering.

Council Officer Kari Graber said if people wished to report activity on the beach such as abandoned cars, distressed marine life, people littering or dangerous driving, they could now ring the ICC at (03) 211 1777. The issues would be addressed within 24 hours on a weekday and within 48 hours outside of business hours.

“We will also hold regular meetings with key stakeholders such as four-wheel drive clubs, beach clean-up groups and life-saving clubs to educate them on the memorandum and gain citizen involvement in policing and reporting.”

Invercargill City Councillor Alan Dennis said the MOU provided a better guide for the public and agencies.

“Hopefully it will put a stop to the use of motorbikes, quad bikes and four-wheel drive vehicles being driven over the sand dunes, as well as curbing littering and dangerous driving. The roles in the MOU are clearly defined but major projects involving the beach can be a shared effort.”

Waihopai Runaka representative Michael Skerrett said there would be signage at Dunns Rd to educate the community about the history and importance of the area to Maori and Southlanders as a whole.

“It is one of the only sites where abundant quantities of toheroa can be found in New Zealand. The MOU gives us tools to address issues that may arise around their protection. This is the start of an education programme to help encourage love and protection of the beach.”