7 Dec 2015

Community group takes back control of swimming spot

5:38 pm on 7 December 2015

A Northland Māori community group is taking back control of a popular local swimming spot after several years of problems with theft and vandalism.

A community group, Te Mauri o Waihou, has been formed to manage Forest Pools, located on the edge of the Puketi Omahuata Forest in Waihou Valley.

The popular summer spot has several different swimming areas, some being shallow enough for toddlers and others that are deep enough for diving.

Dan O'Halloran of the Department of Conservation said the area became so popular it got out of control.

Te Mauri o Waihou interim secretary Tui-Chantelle Barnett said "the last couple of years we've had a lot of trouble with theft, vandalism and people using it as their hideout".

Mr O'Halloran said the area became heavily used for camping over the past few years.

"Last summer it got out of control with more people there than the site could handle creating big issues with rubbish and human waste.

"The locals pretty much asked to shut it down the camping which we've agreed to do." said Mr O'Halloran

The area was once just a picnic area and over the years became an informal camping site.

Ms Barnett said "a group from the local community got together with DOC and decided we'd take on the challenge of settling the issue by getting rid of camping and turning the area into a whanau friendly place."

"We've cordoned off the area into a car park and a picnic area to make it safe for the tamariki." said Ms Barnett

A new toilet has been installed and sustainable landscaping is planned to separate both parking and picnic areas to provide safer spaces.

People are still encouraged to day visit and use the area, but are being asked to respect the new rules of no camping, no dogs and no alcohol or drugs.

Members of community will manage the area and ensure the rules are being followed.

Tomorrow Te Mauri o Waihou will host a Whānau Day at the site.