Watch: 'As far as the eye can see' - Waihi Beach locals shocked by millions of pipis washed up on beach

Waihi Beach locals have been shocked to find thousands and thousands of dead pipi piled up on the beach yesterday.

Eyewitness Jeanette McCallum said she was walking with a friend at the northern end of the beach yesterday when they came across the "shocking" sight.

"We just couldn't believe it," she said. "We were crunching on the shells - they were thick, probably about 20cm thick.

"It was as far as the eye can see ... we were quite shocked and sad."

Ms McCallum, who runs a yoga and reflexology business on the beach, posted a video showing the doomed pipi online, saying she had been heartened by the number of people who had commented on her video in defence of the environment.

She said it was shame, too, as the pipi beds were a welcome food stock in the area.

"We haven't been able to eat pipi for years because of the paralytic virus in them," she said.

"This summer was the first summer we got to eat pipi - and now this happens."

Most of the pipi have now been washed out to sea by the tide, which Ms McCallum said was a good thing, as her husband had reported a terrible smell building up by yesterday evening.

Some have speculated that the death of the shellfish could be connected with extensive flooding in the area experienced last week.

The nearby Top 10 Holiday Park was evacuated after a reservoir uphill began to overflow and fresh water poured down a stream towards the beach.

"I'd say it's fresh water run off from all the rain and that fresh water running down the beach to the pipi beds, that fresh water due to the amount of it probably hasn't had a chance to mix with the saltwater causing the pipi to die," wrote one commenter.

Pipi feed by filtering phytoplankton from sea water and die if left submerged in fresh water for too long.

A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesperson said investigators are looking in to the pipi deaths, but at this stage they do not know what caused the "mass mortality".

"It is not uncommon for shellfish to be affected by big flooding events or issues with water quality," they said.

The spokesperson warned the public against not eating sick or dead shellfish. 

Witness Jeanette McCallum says she and a friend were shocked to find so many dead shellfish. Source: Jeannette McCallum


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Police pledge to crack down on organised crime after hundreds of beehives are stolen

Police officers across the country are putting a new plan into action to target a rise in beehive thefts.

It follows more than 400 reports of hives and honey being stolen since July last year, costing beekeepers millions of dollars.

Apiculture New Zealand Chief Executive Karin Kos said they were seeing beehive theft, "on a much wider scale".

Police are changing tack after industry experts approached officers with concerns they weren’t taking the crime seriously.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said police were ignorant about the thefts, "because you think, bees, they're just hanging around the garden".

They now believe the thefts are an organised crime.

"The amount of product that is being stolen is not something you can just throw in the boot of a car and go away," Mr Macmillan said. 

Beekeepers believe it is the rising value of Kiwi honey which is making stealing hives attractive, with export revenue reaching a record $315 million in the past year.

The industry has also grown significantly, with close to 800,000 registered hives across the country.

The new joint approach has seen the establishment of a central database and clearer procedures.

Police are also receiving practical lessons about beekeeping from experts.

Beekeepers are praising police efforts, saying they’re already noticing a difference.

Wairarapa beekeeper Stuart Ferguson, who is $40,000 out of pocket after he had forty hives stolen, said the police response to his incident was, "brilliant".

"They took me very seriously and they came and sent out an investigator who took pictures of the wheel traps, pictures of the scene."

Police are urging the six thousand beekeepers in New Zealand to consider security for their hives.

They plan to roll out a public awareness campaign in the near future. 

Police believe the theft of more than 400 hives since July, last year is due to organised crime. Source: 1 NEWS

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'Heading in the right direction' – NZ police doing more to ensure ethnic diversity in blue

Police Minister Paula Bennett is pleased more women and people from non-European ethnic groups want to become police officers, but says more can always be done to increase their numbers.

In the first two months of 2017, 1351 people applied to join the force, twice the number of applications for the same months last year.

The government has vowed to add 880 new police officers by 2021, and also needs to replace the 400 who leave each year.

Ms Bennett told TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning that 16 per cent of applicants were Maori, 15 per cent Asian and nine per cent of Pacific Island heritage. 

"That's a good increase at least, it's heading in the right direction," she said.

"We want police to be representative of New Zealand."

Ms Bennett said the best recruitment tool were officers themselves.

"How they're working in the communities, when they're at big events and seeing big crowds of people and how they are interacting with them."

There was a 61 per cent increase in female applicants compared to January 2016. 

Despite the push, the majority of applicants to join the force are European. Source: Breakfast