A joint Generus Bay of Plenty villages’ Beach Clean event is fast growing a following, with inspiring environmental and community outcomes.
Well over 40 residents from both Pacific Coast and Pacific Lakes Villages gathered at the start of the Pacific Coast Village boardwalk under glorious sunshine, buckets in gloved hands, and poised to sweep Pāpāmoa Beach and its dunes on 3 April.
The second event of its kind, the number of residents in attendance to collect rubbish has more than doubled since last years’ inaugural event says participant and Pacific Coast Village resident Sue Hatchwell.
“It’s just a fabulous thing and this year we had a lot more attend than last year. Our residents from the two villages are fit and have fun. They may have some hip and knee problems, but they get out and get involved.”
Sue says the residents are committed to looking after the stunning area of natural beauty, a place that the residents frequent daily.
“That’s why most of us are here at Pacific Coast Village. Because we have this fabulous boardwalk and beach right opposite and we all spend a lot of time there. I’m down there most sunny days, getting out and seeing the sea. It’s such a fabulous area and community.”
Residents meet at the start of the 250m-long village boardwalk, marked by the pouwhenua (carved post) created by prominent local artist Karema Taepa after Generus Living Group and Mangatawa Papamoa Blocks Incorporated established a unique partnership through the development of the two villages.
The pouwhenua appropriately denotes a story about the hau kāinga (local people), acknowledging the association between the tāngata (people) and the whenua (land). Specifically, it reflects the relationship between ancestors, environment, and the reputation or standing of the tāngata whenua.
The boardwalk has been generously made available for the public to use and to appreciate both the rich Māori history of the area and the extensive cultural landscape incorporating the stories of Mangatawa, Hikurangi, Kopukairoa and te rohe Kiwa (Pacific Coast), as well as the vegetation of the coastal dune system.
“The history of the land also makes it special,” says Sue. “So, we want to care for this now and into the future for everyone to enjoy.”
Pāpāmoa Beach is an important recreational area for the local community and is also an important conservation area with the unique dunes and fragile coastal ecosystem. Residents, in twos and threes, split in half at the end of the boardwalk to begin their rubbish collection across the beach and its dunes for a couple of hours.
“It is interesting what you find, but you also collect a lot of what you might expect, like beer bottles in the dunes and plastic bottles,” says Sue. “We also found a tent, clothing, and many plastic bags in the sand where people had buried fish! A dead seagull and wood with nails in it had been washed ashore. We removed all of that.”
Approximately two large garden collection sacks were filled at the end of the event. But overall, there was less litter than last year, which is encouraging says Sue.
“This is thanks to the participation and efforts of other groups such as Forest and Bird who are also collecting rubbish from the area to protect bird populations.”
The main focus of birdlife species in the area is the endangered New Zealand dotterel. They love the unique Pāpāmoa Beach environment explains Pacific Coast Village Operations Manager and Beach Clean event organiser Erika Rans.
“Pāpāmoa dunes are home to the NZ dotterel and with only 2,000 of these birds remaining, the NZ dotterel is now rarer than the kiwi and under threat from extinction.”
“It’s simple initiatives like this Beach Clean that can make a huge difference and inspire us all to act in our day-to-day to make a positive impact.”
Mary Eaton, a new resident of Pacific Lakes Village, thinks it’s a fantastic initiative.
“My husband and I have only recently moved to the area, so we thought ‘let’s go and do it’. It went really well, a really good crowd and lovely weather,” says Mary.
“We go down to the beach most days and it’s nice to go down there and not see any rubbish. It seems to be an annual event now and we support that. It’s our way of contributing, saying ‘thank you’ for what we have here and to the community as a whole.”
At the event’s conclusion, residents went back to the gorgeous Beach House at Pacific Coast Village to enjoy a well-earned afternoon tea.
“Generus Living Group is committed to sustainability and our residents really get behind this ethos. Based on resident feedback and the wider sustainability programming, the Beach Clean is now an annual event firmly set in the village calendar,” adds Erika.
“Waste has been one of the key focus areas in our approach to sustainability with considerable efforts done by village teams on many fronts. Generus continues to embrace the operational waste challenge and find ways to eliminate waste from daily operations and the entire supply chain.”
A dune planting event for the area is also planned for this month.
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