September 16, 2015

The Muriwai incident and why it will come back to haunt us

"You shouldn't twist and turn or break hard and you shouldn't go into the water." 4wdNewz assumes that what Tony Burgess, president of the New Zealand Four Wheel Drive Association, was intending to say as he went into damage-control mode following the recent death of four Mitsubishi Pajero occupants on Muriwai Beach, near Auckland, was that you shouldn't brake hard, rather than what the Pajero actually did. This unintentional black humour was introduced by either the reporter or sleepy sub-editor at the major newspaper quoting the NZFWDA president. Spelling that's near enough is good enough in the media today.

A 4HD (four-hoof-drive) trip,  a few years from now?
The deaths have led to the inevitable call from sections of the public to have "cars" banned from Muriwai Beach, whose sands are no stranger to 4WD fatalities. Another senior and experienced 4WD advocate has also been telling the press that if that driver were on a gravel road and swerved at speed, the outcome would have been similar … that a beach is just as safe as a back road. The difference, however, is that if someone crashes to his or her death on a gravel road, there is no call to immediately ban it to all but pedestrians and horses.

Perhaps 4wdNewz is taking a "glass half empty" point of view here, but it looms as a real possibility that the freedom to drive on beaches near urban areas, particularly Auckland, will be taken away. If not, we'll have the recreational fishing lobby to thank. These people, who are heavy users of places like Muriwai, have a loud and powerful collective voice.

Meanwhile, Auckland Council has introduced for a one-year trial a particularly pointless permit requirement for driving on Muriwai or Karioitahi, another superb surf beach, south of the Manukau Harbour mouth. Under council's Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw, vehicles are not allowed on beaches without the "written permission of council." This permit is available to anyone, online. Answer a few simple questions, like your name and address, vehicle registration, make and model, and why you want to drive on the beach, and the permit is yours after printing it out and signing. It's good for a year. It seems that the applicant could pretty much put down anything he or she wants: Scrooge McDuck, seeking a site for a backup money bin. 4wdNewz put down the offered "sightseeing" and "picnic" categories as reasons for wanting to be there. How will these pointless permits be enforced? Will parking wardens be dispatched in UTVs to inspect the permits, more than 700 of which have already been issued; and if so, enforce them for what? Are the occupants really picnicking; can they prove they have been seeing the sights? The council says it has not yet prosecuted anyone for setting tyre on sand without a permit securely in the glovebox.


5 comments:

  1. Why have the Council not policed the permits?... according to a Council source at Muriwai, the staff were as much in the dark about the introduction of a permit scheme as the general public were!

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    1. These permits are just crazy; even after some research I just can't see their point. And I can't see what is enforceable, other than that you have one. Only a bureaucratic mind could think this up.

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  2. Why do you think the recreational fishing people will be able to keep the beach open for four wheel driving. Don't you think the 4WD movement has a voice of it's own?

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    1. Yes, the NZFWDA provides a voice for off roaders and has done for many years. However, that voice is almost a whisper compared to the might of the recreational fishing lobby. The two groups would almost certainly work together if and when push comes to shove.

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  3. You can forget the 4wd club's for doing anything. There useless.

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