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Locals leap into campaign to save wharf jumping

Flagstaff Team

Diving in… Plunging off Torpedo Bay wharf like these thrillseekers has been banned by Auckland Council

A ban on jumping off Torpedo Bay wharf might not hold water.

Auckland Council recently erected jumping-ban signs on the wharf without warning or consultation with the local community or the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, sparking a widespread outcry.

Local Lesley Springall is urging residents to write to the board and the council to have the ban lifted and signs removed.

“The wharf was repaired and reopened for all to use, and jumping used to be actively encouraged. There’s never been any trouble to my knowledge,” she says.

“Jumpers include the navy, families, tourists and all ages, and everyone looks out for everyone else. It’s really good fun.”

Springall said her whole family enjoys jumping from the wharf, from her 8-year-old to her 74-year-old dad, and they all watched out for each other. “It’s the sea, there are tides, we get that, so why ban jumping?

“The tragedy of the pre-schooler drowning last year wouldn’t have been prevented by banning jumpers. In fact, if there had been jumpers and people in the water that day, the little boy probably wouldn’t have drowned.” Local board member Mike Cohen thinks there could be a legal challenge to the ban. “Locals are naturally upset that their wharf is being taken away from them,” he says. “Further there could be legal issues given the original Devonport Community Board’s renewal/upgrade of the wharf was funded by the Narrowneck Endowment Fund.

“In order to use the money it needed to meet the test that the project was for the benefit of local Devonport people.”

Cohen pointed out that the wharf was saved from demolition by the Navy in the rst place by the former Devonport Community Board. However, he did feel there could be a conflict between swimmers and anglers, especially between October and May – prime jumping and fishing season.

“When there was the closure of the Victoria Wharf some years ago to undertake an upgrade, the shermen were forced to seek other sites from this very popular fishing location hence a drift to Torpedo Bay Wharf.

“Unfortunately when Victoria Wharf reopened not all returned to this site, and it’s not compatible to be throwing hooks and sinkers into an area where someone could be swimming. Further risks are from casting with other people walking on the wharf.

“Instead of dealing with the actual issue they have multiplied from the one sign which has been there for a number of years which states that it is prohibited to dive from the wharf – which in council speak says we warned you, if you ignore it and something goes wrong, it’s not our fault.

“Locals know that the area can be very dangerous if you are swimming with the outgoing tide, which can take you out in the harbour, and that you should only swim if the current and the tide is flowing in.”

Board member Grant Gillon said the issue would be pursued with the council.