Surfbreak Protection Society
Surfbreak Protection Society
News Archive
Our Questions to Wellington City Candidates Re: Lyall Bay

Our email to Wellington City Council Candidates:

Hello Wellington City Mayoral and Council candidates.

SPS are seeking your response to our questions below regarding whether or not you support WIAL seeking to delete the Corner surf break in Lyall Bay, Wellington city’s most popular surf break.

The Surfbreak Protection Society is disappointed with a lack of openness and transparency regarding the consequences of the proposed airport extension’s impacts on Lyall Bay’s surf breaks, in their communications with the local and national surfing community.

_dsc5375_luke-larkingphoto courtesy of Luke Larking

During pre consultation meetings with WIAL in 2015, the airport company continuously deflected questions over impacts of the proposed extension on Lyall Bay’s “Corner” surf break, and asserted the extension itself, will only have minor impacts on the Corner. When the appropriateness of building a promenade along the length of Moa Point Road beside the western edge of the airport with viewing platforms down to the water’s edge was raised at that consultation, those present were told by WIAL’s Communications manager Greg Thomas that “this is just an artists concept, and would be rectified by the time consents were applied for (abridged).”


Yet with the Assessment of Environment Effects supplied to the Councils and Environment Court, there it is, the promenade and reference to a new rock armored seawall down the length of Moa Point Rd, next to (and impacting on) the Corner Surf break.

The proposed esplanade and new rock armored seawall, are not a part of the consents applied for the airport extension project, they will be a part of a separate consents process to be applied for to the Wellington City Council, and may not even require public consultation. WIAL are seeking that the promenade project be completed before the extension project itself.

WIAL have also made a comprehensive submission to the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Proposed Natural Resources Plan (GWRC PNRP) seeking the deletion of all references to the Corner surf break, and there is every indication WIAL will seek an appeal to the PNRP through the environment Court in pursuit of deleting the Corner and policies that protect all other surf breaks in and around Lyall Bay in order to build their new replacement seawall, WIAL are also seeking a new policy specifically for replacement seawalls, that does away with matters of control for the protection of the Corner surf break.

Surf breaks are protected under the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010(NZCPS), and it was recognised by the NZCPS Board of Inquiry (BOI) that surf breaks (areas on the coastline where surfable waves can be ridden) are a finite resource, there are only 470 surfable areas in New Zealand recognised by the BOI The significance of Lyall Bay was discussed and noted. New Zealand Territorial Authorities must give effect to the NZCPS. Although WIALis a private company, it has all the powers and responsibilities of a territorial authority, yet are aggressively breaching their responsibilities in regard to the NZCPS, with Wellington City Council being a significant share holder.
In New Zealand, participation levels for those who surf as a specific form of recreation (along with its many forms, including body-boarding) are close to 150,000; not much lower than the nation’s favourite sport: Rugby which has 190,000 (Sport and Recreation New Zealand, 2008).  surfing is more inclusive, in that men, women, and children participate in this healthy activity.

The sport of surfing has just recently been included as a new sport for the next Tokyo Olympics.
Taking Lyall Bay out of the equation for surfing would be is similar to taking the Cake Tin out of Wellington for rugby.

If WIAL’s appeal to the GWRC PNRP is successful, the cumulative effects of the extension and a new seawall will have serious consequences for future generations of Wellington surfers.

It is not appropriate that WIAL are seeking only mitigation for the loss and degradation of Lyall Bay’s surf breaks, WIAL’s proposed artificial reef is an unproven technology for surfing, and WIAL have asked the surfing community to “trust” them, while the airport company build the extension and the artificial reef.

What happens if it doesn’t succeed? It does not matter, as WIAL will have removed their obligations to the surfing community through their appeal to the Proposed Natural resources Plan.

SPS encourage you to make yourself familiar with this scoop article: before replying to the questions below:

1. WIAL are seeking to remove the Corner surf break from the proposed Natural Resources Plan so they can build a new seawall and promenade along Moa Point Rd. WIAL will need the support of WCC. If elected, will you support the removal of the Corner surf break for this project?

2Do you think it for the public good that Lyall Bay should suffer degraded surfing conditions, the demise of the Corner and Airport Rights surf breaks, for the sake of an airport extension and new promenade?

3. Do you think WIAL should be obligated to rectify the damage to the Corner’s surfing wave quality, that they have caused over the last six to fifteen years?


It is our intention to publish your responses.
Since final votes are to be in by 8th of October a speedy response would be appreciated, but if SPS do not receive a response by Saturday 1st of October We will post your response as a “no comment”



  1. No
  2. No
  3. Yes


  1. No
  2. No
  3. Don’t know. Is it possible to clearly identify the cause of the damage or rectify it?


  1. Absolutely Not!
  2. Absolutely Not!
  3. Yes, they should definitely be forced to rectify this.


  1. No
  2. No
  3. Yes if that can be proven


  1. No!
  2. No!
  3. Yes – Further more I am totally opposed to the runway extension initiative and if elected will not support this proposal. If Infratil/Wellington Airport want to undertake this extension it should be 100% privately funded (assuming it gets Environment Court approval).


  1. No. I would not support (nor advocate) for its removal.
  2. No.
  3. Yes. More research is needed to ensure a compromise is reached, so that space can be used by all parties.


  1. No
  2. No
  3. Yes – Opposed to ratepayer funded unnecessary unjustified unjustifiable $350m (at least) runway extension.


  1. Don’t know. From the images supplied there does not seem to be much difference planned from the layout at the site now. Proper computer modelling of the impact would need to be seen to make some decision along with other information on usage etc.
  2. If the case for the extension actually proves useful then that would over-ride the impact of a leisure activity that is available at other parts of the same coast-line. The airport runway extension is in quite some doubt.
  3. Only if that ‘damage’ has completely prevented surfing in the area which it seems to have not done by my observations. A better term would be ‘degraded’ just putting my legal hat on….


  1. NO! Absolutely not. Lyall Bay corner surf break is a terrific natural resource in the city and needs to be kept and maintained. I walk my dog there many times on the (off the leash) area at the corner and can clearly see the use this break gets and the massive amount of pleasure and exercise that many Wellingtonians derive from this feature of their city.
  2. NO! For the hundreds of millions that the proposed extension is expected to cost it is only reasonable that some of that amount be set aside to preserve the surf break.
  3. YES! Why not? In the total scheme of things relating to the extension this seems a minor matter to correct. All change has victims and beneficiaries, the trick is to maximise the number of beneficiaries and minimise the number of victims. Surfers (and the natural amenities of Wellington) should not be the ‘victims’ of this process when it seems a relatively straightforward issue to protect this resource.In the 1960s the ‘Save Lake Manapouri Campaign’ stopped the lake from been raised 30 metres. In the end, with the use of water running through tunnels New Zealand got the electricity it wanted AND we saved the lake which is now recognised as a standout natural jewel in the the South island. Surely the runway extension can be done (if it stacks up) AND the surf break saved and improved even. Even if the extension does not occur there is no reason not to restore the corner’s wave quality to it’s former glory.


  1. I have to pull your organisation back on the initial blurb of yours about a “lack of openness & transparency” regarding “the harbours dredging” or “the airport extension”. I have read part of a report (council?) commentary which indicated there “would be an adverse affect on waves”, aspects including wave heights & (& therefore surf conditions) at areas of the nearby Wellington coast. Construction of a new seawall has already taken place along parts of Island Bay, & I haven’t heard any complaints from surfers & divers in that area, rather the opposite. If elected, I will carefully consider all the facts, & evidence of any adverse affects, along with the whole economics & any business plan there may be.
  2. No
  3. I’d need more information before answering that question 3.


  1. No
  2. No, the surfing conditions must be protected. I have mentioned potential loss of surfing amenity in my submission on the resource consent.
  3. I would need more information to comment on this.


  1. No
  2. No
  3. Yes


  1. No I will not support the removal of this (corner surf break) or any other reasonable consideration when the resource consent is considered. The consent should be required to consider all reasonable environmental issues of which surfing impact is definitely one. It should then stand – or fall – on its own merits. I would also strongly assert the importance that affected people (surfers in this case) must have the right to submit on the issues that affect them and not in effect be ruled out of order because no weight is placed on the impact on surfing.
  2. No I will not support the removal of this (corner surf break) or any other reasonable consideration when the resource consent is considered. The consent should be required to consider all reasonable environmental issues of which surfing impact is definitely one. It should then stand – or fall – on its own merits. I would also strongly assert the importance that affected people (surfers in this case) must have the right to submit on the issues that affect them and not in effect be ruled out of order because no weight is placed on the impact on surfing.
  3. That’s a really challenging question (should WIAL be obligated to rectify damage over the last 6-15 years ?) because from the Scoop article it seems there is no baseline to understand what changes have occurred in terms of impacts – so it seems the absolutely critical thing is a baseline assessment. That said – as a matter of general principle then yes definitely damage identified should be rectified.


  1. No
  2. If the project proceeded, any adverse effects on surf should be mitigated in order to maintain surfing conditions.
  3. Adverse effects on the surf corner need to be avoided or remedied.
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