Wellington Scoop

Council hears surfers’ concerns about airport’s degradation of surf break


News from SPS
The Surfbreak Protection Society (SPS) is delighted by the positive response from the Wellington Regional Council to their presentation to the council’s Environment Committee on Wednesday.

The presentation from SPS Communications Officer Michael Gunson highlighted the degradation of the Corner surf break in Lyall Bay, due to the Wellington Airport company’s activities along the Moa Point Rd seawall.

Wellington surfers Gary Hurring (Commonwealth Swimming Gold Medallist and Olympic Team Coach), Mark Shanks (Surfing New Zealand Life Member and Sports Wellington Community Engagement Advisor) Rico Lane (Wellington Boardriders Club), Jim Mikoz (Wellington Fishers Association President, and surfer from way back), and Matt Cresswell attended the meeting in support.

They, along with the whole Wellington surfing community, have long held concerns over WIAL’s modifications to the slope of the seawall, especially during the last decade, which has resulted in a significant deterioration in the quality of Wellington’s most popular urban surf break. Jim Mikoz also provided specific information to GWRC on the detrimental effects of the inferior debris dumped by WIAL off the seawall that has led to the degradation of the sand quality of the beach.

Prior to the meeting, SPS had provided GWRC with a letter outlining their concerns and pointing out the sections of the RMA, the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, and regional plans that the airport company has continually breached.

After insightful questions from councillors and conclusive agreement on the way to resolve the issues, GWRC recommended that a round table discussion be convened with all concerned parties in order to determine the best approach to restore the Corner surf break to its former glory.

At this meeting Wellington surfers will also seek to have airport construction debris removed from the big wave surf break at the south end of the runway. The local surfing community is looking forward to working constructively with all parties.


  1. Johno, 13. May 2017, 14:31

    Before an extension can even be considered, the Airport Company must remedy the damage done to the Corner surf break. If the airport is unwilling to do even that, how can surfers have any confidence that it will ever commit to their promise of “better surfing conditions overall” for the bay?

  2. Mark Shanks, 15. May 2017, 7:14

    My feeling is that WIAL have no idea what constitutes a quality surfing wave though they have met with SPS and have had expert advice from eCoast. Maybe they just haven’t been listening hard enough. Well the meeting to be arranged by GWRC will give them another opportunity to bring their ears to the table.

  3. Rico Lane, 16. May 2017, 9:41

    One of the major concerns here is that past councils have allowed illegal activity in regard to dumping material into the sea and that the WCC has a conflict of interest in that it is a shareholder of WIAL which is having the illegal dumping done.
    It will be great to see the establishment of a steering committee that sets the way forward having considered the ideas,thoughts and opinions of the stakeholders. Those being the surfers, dog walkers, cafe users and general Lyall Bay lovers. Be great to see a 20 year plan eh!

  4. Andrew Bell, 16. May 2017, 14:16

    WIAL needs to know it cannot just blithely push ahead with its plan to extend the runway against the wishes of many ratepayers and community organisations and also try to bribe surfers to swap The Corner with an untested swell-focusing artificial reef.

    Surfers need to be aware of the very real degradation that WIAL has been causing to The Corner surf break over the years by conducting this sneaky, underhanded “modification” to the sea wall.

    Almost no one but WIAL is for this runway extension as it seeks private profit at public expense.

  5. Michael Gunson, 16. May 2017, 19:45

    Great comments, and good to see that the Wellington surfers are united in wanting the Corner surf break restored to its optimum.

    I would like to point out that the thrust of the argument is about restoring the Corner surf break to what it once was – not the airport extension. It’s all about restoring the surf break. There is the possibility that WIAL may be able to provide better surfable conditions than exist presently overall, but it will take much more than the proposed artificial swell focus reef.

    In four to six weeks the MBIE study on our Nationally and Regionally Significant surf breaks will install monitoring equipment at Lyall Bay. They will measure the Corner’s performance for surfing as it exists now. Not five, nor ten years ago, or even further back when the Corner was at its optimal performance.

    Surfers, especially those who are older, experienced, and know the break’s potential do not want current conditions to be recorded as the Corner’s optimal performance to measure against for any future yard stick. Let’s get the Corner sorted, then we can discuss avoidance, remedy, or mitigation with WIAL if/when the airport extension consent applications arise.

  6. Mark Shanks, 19. May 2017, 9:36

    I was interested to read in yesterday’s DM “Airport shops for quotes ahead of appeal” that WIAL issued a statement claiming ” as a prudent and responsible organisation…” Well I would have to disagree with their self assessment when it comes to their surreptitious modifications of the Lyall Bay seawall. WIAL’s prudency and responsibility is superficial and self serving.

  7. Dr Sea Rotmann, 19. May 2017, 22:13

    Agree with this and Mark’s comments on the airport’s ‘prudence and responsibility.’ It’s just a sick joke. And we should also talk about the Southern End of the runway and what they did to Moa Point beach and the Airport Rights wave!