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Community Perceptions of Coastal Processes and Management Options for Coastal Erosion

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Report: TR 2011/09
Author: Carol Stewart, Julia Becker and Maureen Coomer (GNS Science)


Long-term management of the coast is an important and challenging task. Some of the challenges faced by coastal managers include maintaining and protecting public access and natural character, protecting people and property from natural hazards, and sustainable planning and use of natural and physical resources. As an added complexity, these issues must also now be addressed within the intergenerational dimension of climate change and its range of associated effects.

Coastal residents, absentee coastal property owners, beach users and visitors all have a stake in how the coastline is managed. However, to date, the aspirations of the ‘coastal community’ in the widest sense have only been identified to a limited extent.

The general framework for this study is one of community involvement in coastal hazard mitigation. Understanding the perspectives of the community, including people’s viewpoints about what they value about the coast, whether they really understand how coastal processes work, and what their preferred community management options or outcomes might be, can assist with setting goals for long-term coastal planning.

For this study, research was carried out in three communities on the east coast of the Coromandel in January and February 2007. The communities selected were Whangapoua, Tairua and Waihi Beach. These locations were chosen as they illustrate both a range of severity of current erosion threats and of approaches to coastal protection.

Following the completion of survey data collection, a basic data report (Becker et al. 2007) was produced, which presents the postal survey results in tabular and graph format. A further report (Stewart et al. 2007) was also produced, containing a detailed analysis of the findings from the interviews with the beachgoers, as well as a preliminary analysis of data from the postal questionnaires.

This report presents a more in-depth analysis of the results from the postal questionnaire and links the results back into the wider coastal work programme.

Results are also interpreted in light of a new national direction on preparing for climate change in the coastal zone. A particular focus is to determine public attitudes towards coastal erosion and its management, and to what extent there appears to be a mindset of ‘taming’ coastal processes (sometimes referred to as ‘holding the line’) compared to that of a more sustainable viewpoint of ‘living with’ natural processes.

Community Perceptions of Coastal Processes and Management Options for Coastal Erosion (1 mb)

Table of contents

  Acknowledgements i
  Executive summary v
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Coastal management paradigms 1
1.2 Research on community involvement in coastal hazard mitigation 3
1.3 Study aims and objectives 4
2 Study setting 7
2.1 Study locations 7
2.1.1 Whangapoua 7
2.1.2 Tairua 7
2.1.3 Waihi Beach 8
2.2 Comparative geomorphic settings 8
2.3 Administration of the study areas 8
2.4 Approaches to coastal protection at the study locations 9
2.4.1 Whangapoua 9
2.4.2 Tairua 9
2.4.3 Waihi Beach 10
3 Methods 12
3.1 Sampling strategy and survey delivery details 12
3.1.1 Postal questionnaires 13
3.1.2 Face-to-face interviews 15
3.2 Data analysis and reporting 15
3.2.1 Initial analysis and reporting, 2007 15
3.2.2 Detailed analysis and reporting, 2008 16
3.2.3 Significance of results reported 16
3.3 Sample composition 17
3.3.1 Demographic characteristics 17
3.3.2 Property ownership and resident status 18
4 Results 20
4.1 Valued attributes of the coast and its management 20
4.1.1 Differences in views between residents and absentee owners 21
4.1.2 Influence of demographic variables 24
4.1.3 Significant relationships between selected pairs of valued attributes 25
4.1.4 Management preferences 28
4.1.5 Open-ended responses 30
4.1.6 Key findings for 'what respondents value about the coast and its management' 31
4.2 Perceptions of coastal processes 32
4.2.1 'We must accept that erosion is a natural process at the coast' 32
4.2.2 'Inapproriate development in coastal areas can put houses at risk from erosion' 37
4.2.3 'The width of the dune changes during the year' 38
4.2.4 'Once a dune is destroyed there's no way to bring it back' 40
4.2.5 'There is a range of methods available to stop coastal erosion indefinitely' 41
4.3 Respondents' preferences for different coastal erosion management options 47
4.3.1 Residents compared with visitors 48
4.3.2 Proximity to beachfront 49
4.3.3 Gender 50
4.3.4 Environmental experience 50
4.3.5 Perceptions of coastal processes 51
4.3.6 Specific knowledge about dune processes and seawalls 53
4.3.7 Perceptions of erosion threat 54
4.3.8 Coastal erosion management: open resources 56
4.3.9 Summary 59
4.3.10 Property ownership and residency 63
4.3.11 Proximity to beachfront 64
4.3.12 Perceived erosion threat 66
4.3.13 Management preferences 67
4.3.14 Summary 67
5 Conclusions 68
5.1 Key findings of this study 68
5.1.1 What people value about the coast 68
5.1.2 Perceptions of coastal processees 68
5.1.3 Management preferences 69
5.1.4 Views of how erosion control should be funded 71
5.2 Concluding comments 71
6 References 73
 7 Appendices 1
 7.1 Appendix 1 : Postal questionnaires for Tairua and Waihi Beach 1
7.2 Appendix 2 : List of cross-tabulation tables 26
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