Protection of Oneroa foreshore in time for summer

Kia mau koe ki ngā kupu o ōu tupuna.

People visiting Oneroa / Long Beach near Russell will see a row of yellow sandbags stacked against a small part of the foreshore – but don’t worry, they’re only temporary.

Landscape of beach and ocean with grass in foreground
Sandbagging and other temporary protection measures being put in place at Oneroaexpand/collapse

Kororāreka Marae has teamed up with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and Far North District Council to take measures to protect this part of the foreshore in time for summer.

“This segment of the beach is prone to erosion from natural storm events and foot traffic. Over the past 18 months two koiwi pre-Christian burials have eroded out of this part of the Oneroa beach coastal reserve with the possibility that further koiwi could also yet be exposed,” says the Chair of Kororāreka Marae Deb Rewiri.

“Our plan was to undertake an archaeological investigation on this part of the beach in 2021 with a view to retrieving any koiwi buried there and, following appropriate tikanga, reinterring them in an urupā. Unfortunately, covid intervened and that kaupapa has had to be deferred until the first half of this year.

“As a stop-gap measure, however, we have worked with FNDC and HNZPT to put in place a temporary support in the form of a waratah fence, signage, geotech cloth and sandbags to temporarily protect the current edge of the site from further erosion until the investigation can take place.”

The sandbags will be removed when the investigation – and likely reinterment – takes place later this year. The excavation will operate under the cultural guidance and direction of the Kororāreka Marae and will be overseen by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga with the University of Auckland providing specialist forensic skills.

“From a cultural perspective, it’s not appropriate to have people eating and enjoying recreational activities directly over a possible burial site. That’s why we would like to manage this situation with koiwi present in a way that makes the area safe for everyone,” says Deb.

“We’re asking that people to be aware of the fenced off and sandbagged area this summer, and to treat this place with particular respect.”

- John O'Hare