Sunday, September 9, 2012

Matarangi. An example of how not to build a town.

From the Coromandel highway turn-off, the road to Matarangi winds its way through a wetland on the southern side of the Whagapoua Estuary.  After several kms you reach a rather dilapidated concrete monument that marks the entrance to Matarangi.  The first sight in the settlement is the town refuse station,  followed by the CBD, an enclave of cheaply-built shops dominated by realestate businesses with flags flying.

Further on, the road leads through large areas of incomplete and unsold sections.  A place of unfinished subdivisions, halted because the money ran out.  We naturally looked for the beach but were instead led around a spider web of roads to the estuary boat ramp, decaying and silting up.  No sign of any effort to maintain or upgrade the facilities.  The sea floor was littered with rotting fish-frames, not a good look.  Backtracking we at last found the beach,  accessible down a few narrow pathways that run between empty holiday houses.  The beach itself is quite attractive.

How was such a soul-less place created?  The developers responsible for Matarangi (Hanover Group) should be charged for crimes against the NZ coastline.  They have created a settlement that privatises its prime asset, the beach.  In place of an accessible foreshore with open space and facilities it is all private holiday homes built along the fore-dune.  It is plain to see that the developer's goal was simply to maximise the number of sections for sale.

Where was the Hauraki District Council planning input?  To become viable communities, beach settlements need character and facilities.  Roads should lead visitors and residents alike to a generous central public space along the beach front with room for recreation and business growth.  Its not all about short-term gain through section sales.   The alternative is simply a disorganised cluster of empty holiday homes.