Inheritance being washed away
Watson Irving feels like all he can do now is watch on while his inheritance washes away into the sea.
The Wellington man owns one of two houses at the end of Turangi Rd Lower in Motunui, north Taranaki, a property gifted to him by his mother. Both houses are unoccupied and are sitting precariously on the edge of the disappearing cliff.
The area is the latest hotspot of concern in the district as the forces of erosion eat away at the Taranaki coastline.
It’s a problem plaguing other parts of the country too, like Petone, in Wellington, where some properties could become uninsurable as a result.
This is already the case for Irving, who said he had spent years trying to protect his asset.
His efforts have included ongoing communication with New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) along with an attempt to build a retaining wall, which was ultimately rejected by officials, Irving said.
Now the house, which he described as ‘‘condemned’’, was uninsurable and getting ever closer to the cliff’s edge.
‘‘It’s very close to that happening.’’
He said the council had lacked leadership on the issue and he felt he had also run out of options.
‘‘I want to keep it (the house and section) as much as I can but financially it’s costing me money,’’ he said.
Katrina Brunton, New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) customer and regulatory solutions manager, said two people had contacted it about coastal erosion in the Turangi Rd Lower area this year.
‘‘The north Taranaki coast is constantly changing and how we manage coastal erosion in general is a New Zealand wide issue.
‘‘While we sympathise with communities facing this challenge, NPDC’s role under legislation is to protect significant public structures,’’ Brunton said in a written statement.
She said if property owners in coastal areas wanted to construct their own private seawall, they needed to talk to Taranaki Regional Council.
Brunton said two buildings on Turangi Road Lower were considered unsafe and needed work in order to comply with Building Act rules.
‘‘We will continue to monitor this area and work with the owners to ensure public safety,’’ she said.
Safety is also the concern of other residents too, who say the two homes at risk of being claimed by the encroaching ocean could put other beachgoers at risk.
Mary and Layton King, who have lived in the area for more than 20 years, were worried debris from the deteriorating properties could also be a hazard in the frequent high winds that blow through the area, with the possibility it could be picked up and thrown up into nearby properties or down to the beach below.
Layton King said this could be dangerous to beachgoers as the area was a popular spot in the summer months, with people collecting kaimoana, fishing and walking.
‘‘We’re really concerned about the safety aspect of it and the environment as well,’’ Mary King added.
Layton King said he had been in touch with NPDC to voice his concerns about the risks, but had no response.
The Kings were acutely aware of the relentless nature of coastal erosion in their neighbourhood.
Mary King said a po¯hutukawa tree near the carpark had been a recent victim.
"The seas just came and gobbled that up.’’