The Waenhuiskrans Cultural Landscape is a Grade I National Heritage Landscape. It comprises the Fishing Village of Kassiesbaai, the adjoining dunes and farm land; parts of the old town in Arniston, including the old graveyard; and the stretch along the coast, including the visvywers.
The fishing village was established in 1905 after a settlement between the owners of the land and the fishing community.
In 1932 the Waenhuiskrans Fishermen’s Union (Vissersunie) was established to represent the community and to take formal transfer of the land which was acquired in the settlement of 1905. They collect rates from individual home owners and see that rates are paid to the relevant local authorities. They also allocate land for new houses and administer the transfers of existing houses. The Fishermen’s Union holds the title deed to the land, but individual home owners own their own houses on the land. These owners may leave their houses to family members in their wills, or sell their houses to other members of the community, should they wish to do so. All transfers are subject to approval by the Fishermen’s Union.
In the 1970s the local authorities initiated a course of action in the fishing village on the pretext that the rates and taxes on the land were in arrears. Their intention was to demolish the badly neglected village, move the community elsewhere and establish a new residential development, which would be an extension of the holiday town. Conservationists and the fishing community joined forces to prevent this. They collected money to pay the outstanding rates and to renovate the village. The renovated village was declared a National Heritage Site in 1984.
Under new legislation the Waenhuiskrans Cultural Landscape was granted Grade 1 national status in 2003. This followed an attempt to develop Dolla’s Downs and the dunes of Dolla’s Downs. This new residential development would have doubled the size of Arniston. Vigorous protests by the public in general and by conservationists in particular, and also a lack of sufficient water resources eventually prevented this planned development from going ahead.
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