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From Granite to Golden Sands - History of Kaiteriteri Beach

March, 2010
Written by Sue Clark, with assistance and information from Jack Inglis and Peter King

Kaiteriteri Beach is man made and the events leading up to its 'manufacture' make intriguing reading.

Details of Kaiteriteri from 1841 to about 1900 have been sketchy but for a long period Kaiteriteri was owned by G. Daniells, a retired British army major but there is no evidence that he actually took up residence there. From about 1910 onwards the history of Kaiteriteri is better documented.

Syd Rowling, a Riwaka orchardist, having received all his fruit money, went off to Nelson in 1914 to purchase a Model T Ford He called on Fred Hamilton, the boss of the then stock & station firm Buxtons and finally arrived home that night, not with the model T but with the title deeds to Kaiteriteri.

Syd set about establishing an orchard in Kaiteriteri, the soil was too sandy and dry so eventually Syd pulled out all the apples and planted pines and eculypts instead.

In the 1920's there was camping in Kaiteriteri. Access was difficult except by boat. Syd set aside a piece of land for the campers but it was too rough and swampy and by this time a committee was charging campers four shillings a week to cover overheads and maintenance.

By 1934/35 the Riwaka residents discussed the formation of a domain board. The inaugural meeting was held on 28th January 1936 with well known Riwaka names Syd Rowling, Wally Drummond, Jack Holyoake Fred Hamilton and five others.

In 1938 the decision to buy the present camp flat land of 16 acres for 600 pounds was made with the Riwaka residents donating 100 pounds, Automobile Association NSN 25 pounds and the remainder from the Government.

To commemorate 100 years since the Wakefield landing another son, Wes Rowling, gifted a small piece of land where the Wakefield spring now stands, followed by 4.5 acres of freehold Kaka Pah Point in 1942.

There were other acquisitions over the years, the largest being acquisition of the estuary in 1952 from J Martin of Martins Farm Road who gave up his Crown Lease provided it was transferred to the control of the Board. The Martins Road dump site was bought from NZ Forest Service in 1993 for $80,000 and the present cafe site from a Nelson family at a competitive market price.

For over 50 years Kaiteriteri was administered by a publically elected Domain Board and we owe a huge debt to those mainly Riwaka based families who gave their time over the years for little or no recompense -Bruce Rowling did 25 years, Athol Rowling 21 years, Tony Fry 22 years and Jack Inglis 18 year, Les Milnes retired as secretary after 31 years.

The Domain Board 'volunteers' had the foresight to make changes to Kaiteriteri. They transported fill from the old Dump Site This re claimed land became the present day car park and the playground area. Funds for this work were generated from the camping ground. Only half of the permitted reclamation took place. After one year the hierarchy in Wellington put a stop to any further reclamation.

Here mention should be made of Alan Stokes who did the majority of the building and maintenance of the camping grounds with the help of PD workers. The shop was redesigned and updated and the idea was that it would serve the purpose for five years, thirty eight years later and the shop is still there "serving the purpose"!

10th April 1968 will be remembered by many. Cyclone Giselle hit Wellington and caused the Wahine Disaster but it also totally destroyed the Kaiteriteri beach front. The decision was made to cart rocks from the northern end of the beach and place them on the foreshore. Once the rocks were in place, truckloads of granite were carted from the old Dump Site and placed on top of the rocks until they were totally covered. Keith Fry designed and built a new boat ramp which is still in used today. The timber for which was donated by the Gibbons family.

For everyone, 1989 brought major change, new legislation a new Board appointed by the Minister to administer the Reserve. All but two of the members appointed by the local public lost their positions which was a pity. It is felt by some that there should be more local representation on the present Board.

Years of weather, tides and foot traffic have weathered the granite and turned it into the fabulous golden sand that is world renown today and each year sand is removed from the estuary to replenish the beach.

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