Whose beach is it?



In last week’s edition we ran a Letter to the Editor named ‘Whose beach is it?’ This dealt with the private ownership of a beach at Grahams Beach. We did some investigation and spoke to some of the land owners.

What we found firstly is that the above scenario is played out all over New Zealand and not just at Grahams Beach. New Zealand coastal property ownership is a mixture of old and new laws, meaning a beach walk can take you across land controlled by private owners without your knowledge.
These rights are referred to as ‘riparian rights’. If you have riparian rights that means that your title goes to the mean high water mark, and that you are entitled to exclude people from entering your property.
This means you can put up no trespassing signs and enforce your rights.
We spoke with some residents who own the land above, who were saddened by our article as they have always allowed the public walking access through the privately owned area. They also said that none of the residents wererude to public when asking them to move off their land.
The problem I have with this is there are NO SIGNS on the beach or on the property claiming these rights. How can any reasonable person be expected to obey a law they have no clue even exists?
When we researched this we had no idea what riparian rights were or just how land owners were going to enforce them without any signs.
One beachgoer who prefers to remain anonymous said he would tell people to @#%&$^ off if they said he must move off the beach because the people of New Zealand have free access to all beaches.
We now know this is not the case. We were also told that the land owners above have not stopped people from walking through their land, however they have on occasion asked people to please move off the beach for a variety of different reasons.
To avoid any misunderstanding and embarrassment for beachgoers and their families, the land owners should put up warning signs if they are going to strictly enforce their rights.
Has this affected you, what are your thoughts? Do you have an opinion you want to share? steve@thepost.nz

facebook comments

The Letter to the Editor last week regarding private ownership on certain sections of Grahams Beach, caused quite a debate on social media. Here are some of the comments about the issue raised:

“I’m sorry, but unless there is a council sign up saying I can’t use that part of the beach, then I would be. And if they make a fuss, then let them call the police. It would be up to them then to prove that they own that beach front. But seriously, I too always thought the sea and the beach is Crown land.

Point being the beach (ie) the sand is not your property! We have a farm that goes right down to the beach out at Otaua, we don’t run around telling people they can’t use that stretch of beach.

There are some locals at Wattle Bay who actually patrol the beach like police, it was my fav beach but not so much anymore.

Buy a house at the beach and see what your feelings are when every Tom, Dick and Harry sets up on your front lawns. I just don’t use that patch of beach lawn frontage out of respect for those who have paid good money for their baches. Plenty of spots down there. Hudson’s Beach is never packed and it is two minutes from Grahams Beach. The sand is open to all but not the grass front lawns for me.

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