Keni-Duke Hetet’s toilet block design for Tahunanui Beach.

Stink over beach toilets


Tahunanui Beach is rated as one of New Zealand’s best beaches, but both locals and visitors are saying that its public toilet facilities are bringing it down.

In fact, one local man who also happens to be an architectural designer, is so passionate about getting a new toilet block at the Lions Playground, that he has donated a design to the Nelson City Council.

Keni-Duke Hetet, a keen surfer and father of four, offered a conceptual sketch for new toilets back in 2010 in the form of a letter to the mayor at the time, Aldo Miccio.

But he was unsuccessful – receiving a reply that said he would have to “put a submission into the Long Term Plan.”

Keni-Duke says he and his wife have contacted the council again several times in the hope of getting some traction – but after no luck, they gave up.

“For me, there are two problems with the toilets,” he says.

“They are not good enough in terms of hygiene, and then there’s the shower – there can be ten people waiting to use it on a busy day.”

Keni-Duke’s design, which is modelled on the shape of a pipi, would have three cold water outdoor showers and a bench for people to sit down on while they wait.

“For me, it’s not because I’m a designer – I’m a surfer and person who goes down to the beach a lot with his kids,” he says.

“Tahunanui Beach is one of the premier beaches in the country and deserves better.”

Nelson Weekly asked others thought about the toilets – including locals, visitors, families and surfers who were at the beach in the weekend.

Ninty per cent of the respondents said they were unsatisfied with the current toilets and changing sheds and that they would like to see something bigger, tidier, and more functional.

A spokesperson from OCS, who are contracted to clean and maintain the seven toilet blocks throughout Tahunanui Beach says the Lion’s playground toilets are so busy in the summer months they have to be cleaned and re-stocked three times a day.

“The Lions toilets are one of the original blocks there, and they just get hammered during the summer months. It would be great to see something bigger there.”

Chair of the council’s sports and recreation committee, Tim Skinner says the Lions playground toilet block is “much more basic than council would like” and that his first impression of Keni-Duke’s design was that it was “way cool.”

“I think the design is great. I’ll definitely be putting it on the table, and it could be a good catalyst to raise the benchmark,” he says.

Tim’s only concern is that a new toilet block could get vandalised.

“The block by the Beach Cafe was spruced up a few years ago with mirrors and soap – but they got trashed almost straight away, so we have to be mindful of that and the design,” he says.

But Keni-Duke says that if the design was a good one, it wouldn’t get vandalised.

“If something is nice, then the public takes ownership of it and they start looking out for them,” he says.

Tim says there is currently no allocated budget in the 2017/18 draft annual plan, but if they got good feedback from the community on the project, it could be seen as a priority.

If people agree that the Lions Playground deserves a better toilet block, they can make a submission to the draft annual plan at until 18 April.