Case Studies

These case studies offer some examples of integrated design which address many of the issues discussed  in the preceding chapters and develop further the concepts that are critical to achieving a best practice coastal development.

Whilst it is recognised that these case studies might not excel in every facet, they offer important models where many of the elements of good practice discussed in the specific topics are brought together in a cohesive manner.

Mātauri Bay development, Northland

The Mātauri Bay development in Northland is an example of a sensitively-designed private coastal development project. The land at Mātauri Bay has always remained in Māori ownership but, through the legal process of individualising title to customary land, the land has been subdivided into nineteen separate lots. An incorporated society was set up in the late 1960s to manage the land. This worked well until the 1990s, when the land was used as security for an outside venture that subsequently failed. This provided the impetus to develop the land in a manner which would generate funds to repay the loan whilst retaining the underlying ownership of the property.

Some initial concepts for the site showed a mass of housing right along the beachfront. Some prospective development partners also proposed small sections, of around 650 square metres each, which would enable more lots to be created in the highly-sought-after beachfront area. 3266  This did not sit well with the Māori owners so a joint venture was put together and an alternative development concept developed.

The development model which was finally adopted set the houses on the hillside above the beach,  but well below the ridgeline, and around half a kilometre from the coastal edge. All houses require approval from a design control committee, and the use of natural materials such as stained wood is encouraged, with brick and plaster and painted wall cladding banned. Perimeter fencing is also excluded with the new occupiers encouraged to use softer planting for privacy and screening. This was to enable people to live in an open park-like setting.

Twenty-six hectares of indigenous forest was set aside for protection, and the wetlands and sand dunes along the coastal edge are to be restored. No cats or dogs are permitted in the subdivision due to the extensive kiwi population in the area. Public access to the beach is facilitated through the provision of a large public carpark and creation of legal public road access to the coast (whereas previously the access road was privately owned).  The development was seen as an opportunity to celebrate the Māori heritage of the bay, and there are plans for an information centre where stories and histories associated with the place will be told through weavings, carvings and paintings. The new sections being created are leasehold so that the Māori owners will retain the underlying land ownership.

Although the coastal landscape would have remained more natural if the bay had not been developed at all, this was probably not a feasible option if local Māori were to retain ownership of their land. The development model which was adopted sought to accommodate the interests of the local community, the general public and the long-term landowners, whilst minimising visual impacts on the coastal landscape and restoring and protecting important coastal ecological systems.

Ōmarino development, Bay of islands

On the eastern coast of the Bay of Islands, the Ōmarino development provides house sites within a regenerating conservation area. It is protecting 110 hectares of replanted native bush and includes covenants to prevent future subdivision. A wetland, which is the habitat of the rare native brown teal, is also being protected, and archaeological and cultural heritage sites of significance to the hāpu from Rawhiti have been recognised.

Purchasers are required to join a residents’ association, which has a legal obligation to implement a management plan. This plan contains detailed landscape plans, specifications for managing and implementing revegetation of the site, and an ongoing pest and predator control programme. There are detailed controls on building design and location.

Covenants on the property titles are designed to prevent future subdivision.4 Considerable effort was put into ensuring the development was in keeping with the rural coastal character of the site, including the creation of low key internal access roads and inconspicuous road signage.

Tangata whenua have been given formal access to archaeological sites, other wāhi tapu and heritage covenant areas. Public access has been provided to a small area of foreshore in one of the smaller bays adjoining the site, enabling boaties to land. A proposal to provide a public walking track to a headland pa from this area was opposed by the local hāpu and did not proceed. So whilst the public will continue to be excluded from much of the property’s privately-owned coastal land there have been other significant gains as a result of the ecological restoration work and protecting Māori interests in this area.

Omarino development, Bay of Islands

Bream Tail, Mangawhai Heads

The Bream Tail development is a high quality residential enclave located just north of Mangawhai Heads, providing up to 40 homes within 459 hectares of coastal land. It is a master-planned development designed to site private residential houses within spectacular coastal landscapes, beaches, farmland, conservation reserves and wildlife. The area has been described by ecologists as “iconic”. The principal objective for the development has been to preserve the high quality of the property’s natural assets, and to enable the owners to enjoy them, whilst also providing for public access. Over $1.5 million is being spent on conservation. Design guidelines are intended to ensure that buildings contain a degree of design integrity that is in keeping with the landscape and the character of the property as a whole.

Common facilities have been located and designed to fit within the existing coastal landforms, being tucked into a valley and with the length of the frontage directly facing the sea minimised. Public access through the development is incorporated via the Mangawhai Walkway, which is part of the much larger national Te Araroa walking route. Located adjacent to Mangawhai Heads, it provides the public with an opportunity to view and access parts of the coast which have previously been locked up as private land.

Bream Tail (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

Mountain Landing, Purerua Peninsula

Mountain Landing is a very different kind of development, which seeks to reconcile public and private interests on some of the most historically significant land in New Zealand. 3267  The area was attractive for early human settlement because of its productive land and abundant marine life, and there is evidence of occupation dating back at least 400 years. Numerous early Māori settlements were located on the property and there are a number of sites of particular cultural and heritage importance. The land where these are located is held in a charitable trust to ensure their future preservation.

In 2000 the 338-hectare property was bought by Peter Cooper who wished to create a development model which would allow the land to be kept intact. He set up a sustainable working farm, with the coastal edge and wetland area protected and restored, and the stock kept out of the remaining areas of native bush. He then designed a subdivision that included 39 house sites and 12 hectares of covenanted heritage areas. Pest management and habitat enhancement programmes have been in place on the property since 2002.

All the home and landscaping design at this development is subject to a stringent set of design guidelines. These seek to reduce the impact of buildings on the surrounding landscape and encourage owners to use natural materials and colourings for their building materials. The observance of these design principles is overseen by a Design Review Board.

There are many rare and endangered native birds that are living within Mountain Landing’s wildlife sanctuary areas, including a thriving population of kiwi. Over 20 endangered pateke (native brown teal) were released at the property in 2011 as part of the Department of Conservation’s pateke recovery programme. Since then, ducklings have hatched and another release is planned with the aim of establishing a fully self-sustaining breeding colony.

Mountain Landing, Purerua Peninsula (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

Kapiti Coast District Council Best Practice subdivision and development guide

The Council has prepared these guidelines in order to promote responsive and innovative development design that will deliver improved community environments. The guidelines address such matters as designing with the landscape, responding to the coastal landform, managing earthworks and incorporating low impact infrastructure design.

The guidelines encourage developers to respond positively to the coastal landform through preserving dunes and other coastal features, restoring degraded habitats, and incorporating public roads and parks along the beachfront. In order to encourage developers to adopt these approaches, the Council indicated that it will support the merits of reduced or irregular lot sizes and consider the positive effects of investment in additional landscaping, ecological or landform retention.

  1. Peart R, 2009, Castles in the sand: What’s happening to the New Zealand coast? Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson, at 249-250

  2. Peart R, 2009, Castles in the sand: What’s happening to the New Zealand coast? Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson

Last updated at 2:12PM on February 25, 2015