The community of Tolaga Bay are ecstatic with the clean-up progress of slash on their beach. It's a promising sign for the coastal community as it gears up for its summer season.
Lheilyn Habib, a student at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mangatuna in Uawa says, “It's awesome. It's great, good for us we can play on the beach again.”
“It's awesome now the trees are gone, we have more space to play”, says Makaia Allen, also a student at TKKM o Mangatuna.
For local business owners, it's a welcome relief ahead of the holiday season.
Dion Milner, manager at the Tolaga Bay Holiday Park, says, “It actually looks quite weird not seeing any logs on the beach. The work that they've done was absolutely amazing.”
Verity Russell operates the Curbside Cafe near the wharf at Tolaga Bay.
“It's awesome, they've done a great job and great time for summer coming up and actually looks better than it ever did before, so really stoked about that," she says.
Collaborative efforts between local iwi, forestry, council and community groups have facilitated progress in the clean-up operation.
Te Kurapounamu Karini, a student at TKKM o Mangatuna, says, “There were many logs and that wasn't good; we weren't able to swim or go fishing.”
Also a volunteer fighter who assisted in the burn-off, Milner says, “It was becoming a health and safety issue with these big piles that were here. Our tamariki- you know, tamariki are tamariki- they go and play on piles and try and dig tunnels under them but how it is now- it's all been cleaned and yes, we're all ready for action for the summer.”
The southern part of the beach has been cleared from the wharf to the river mouth. The operation is now moving up towards the surf club.
Bronte Kaitai of TKKM o Mangatuna says, “It's awesome to see that the trees are gone. We can play rugby, tackles, surf, soccer and dive for seafood.”
It is hoped that the operation will be completed before Christmas.