On, or around the night of the 27th / morning of the 28th of June “vandals” are alleged to have broken one of the three glass panels on the end of Napier’s Marine Parade viewing platform.
This is the fourth time the glass has been broken since the platform was opened in 2015.
In the 30th of June edition of the local paper, Hawke’s Bay Today, Napier’s mayor said it was “soul destroying for council staff” and even the paper’s editor later chimed in vilifying the acts of, as yet, unidentified villains.
Posters on local Facebook pages alleged (without proof) the damage was caused by Napier’s current easy target – Homeless / Beggars / Rough Sleepers.
But there’s a problem with pointing the finger on this matter:
There’s no proof!
Pictures of the damage in the local paper showed, while the extra-strength glass had “shattered”, it appeared to have held its shape, like a car windscreen, meaning the end of the platform wasn’t exposed to a drop of several meters into the waterline below, but it also didn’t give an indication which direction the glass panel was struck from.
As far as I’m aware there are no CCTV cameras on the platform, or located in such a position to get an unobstructed view down to the end of the platform, especially during the middle of the night.
The council officially reopened the platform yesterday, and the paper accordingly reported:
“Mayor Bill Dalton said it was the fourth time vandals had smashed the glass, which was initially installed in a single piece but later separated into three panels to minimise the cost of vandalism. He said that any repeats of the vandalism could lead to a decision not to use a see-through barrier in the future.
Council chief executive Wayne Jack said no one had been identified as a culprit for the latest damage..”
In other words they had no idea what may have caused the glass to break?
So why blindly point fingers?
I think I may have a lead on the culprit. But it may not be a “who”, rather a WHAT.
I just happened to be on Marine Parade the afternoon before the “vandalism” took place.
The sea was very rough that day:
The same newspaper picture that showed the broken glass panel also showed a fair amount of water on the platform and some very damp looking concrete and glass – Not unusual, given the platform’s location.
The day before news of the damaged panel featured, coverage of Clifton Beach (south of Napier near Cape Kidnappers) further eroding away after high seas on Tuesday night – the same timeframe as the platform damage – was front and centre on Hawke’s Bay Today’s front page.
Yet no one could make a correlation?
Exactly one week later Hawke Bay put on almost identical conditions, resulting in this stunning footage by local photographer Tim Whittaker of Haumoana Beach (just north of Clifton) taking a battering. So I went for a wander down to the platform to have a look.
This is what I saw:
The driftwood in the foreground denotes the height the sea was getting to at high tide – It is almost level with the Marine Parade Walkway and entrance to the viewing platform – Some 40-50 meters from the shoreline.
The wash from some of the swells was still making it around half way to the high tide mark at times.
Given the homeless people blamed on social media have been occasionally seen residing under the viewing platform, the most accessible parts well within this wash zone, it is highly unlikely they were anywhere near it during these large swells. That puts a dampener on claims they were potential culprits.
And of course:
Being a beach of big breakers and rough surf, the platform is a popular venue for photographers to get snaps of waves smashing into the base of the viewing platform and spray leaping high into the air and onto, and over the platform and any thrill-seeking viewers who happen to be on it at the time.
High tide on the night of Tuesday June 27 was at 8:20pm – Well after dark, and with high tide exacerbating the already wild seas very few people would have considered venturing out onto the platform in the dark.
With these high, rough seas and, given water weighs one ton per cubic meter (this is what makes tsunamis so destructive) it wouldn’t take too many waves to break even toughened glass after enough of a battering.
Factor in the chance of a hunk of driftwood, or a large stone being hoisted up by the force of the water and there’s plenty of extra ammunition to barrage and potentially break a glass panel on the end of the viewing platform with.
The viewing platform is in a very exposed position on Marine Parade and takes a battering from the elements. It had already come under early criticism for how it was holding up, particularly to tidal shingle deposits building up in the storm-water outfall pipe underneath.
It must be expected that the platform will be damaged by the elements at some stage. Good design and correct building materials should minimise these effects. But given the unpredictable nature of, um, Mother Nature some level of damage must be anticipated.
So why was the potential of a natural cause not considered or opined along with the chance of it being some miscreant human?
Given Napier City Council’s current strike rate with their ratepayers’ trust, it seems fool-hardy to just blame phantom “vandals”.
People at the end of glass viewing platforms shouldn’t throw stones!