Report from the Public Meeting on erosion

On Saturday 08 June 2019 Ramon Strong from Horizons Regional Council informed around 70 people about the findings of the Tonkin and Taylor Report on our river mouth and erosion.

Horowhenua District Council Mayor Michael Feyen, John Foxall and Hinewai Pouwhare-Anderson of Horizons, Councillor Lindsay Burnell of Horizons also attended and there were some 30 apologies.

Ramon Strong addresses the meeting.
Ramon Strong addresses the meeting. Cr Lindsay Burnell is on the far side and John Hewitson close to the camera.

After the report, which you can read on this website, Ramon took questions, all quite useful. Below are some notes on this second part of the meeting. Some questions and answers have been moved around as they belong together.

Read the Tonkin and Taylor beach erosion report

Q: Questions re climate change and rainfall, warm air, sea level change.

A: Tonkin and Taylor were asked about climate change effects. They said they weren’t sure. Needs ongoing monitoring. The responsibility for this area doesn’t really rest with anyone as it’s not part of the Ōhau Manakau Scheme.

A: Don’t know if higher sea level will offset ongoing accretion or if all will stay in balance. Need ongoing monitoring.

Q: Who built the 2012 groyne?

A: Not sure — may have been Horowhenua District Council in discussion with Horizons Regional Council. Probably a reactive response. Proactive would be better.

Q: What about ongoing management of the north side dunes to prevent sediment and sand build up coming from NW winds and building up obstruction at river throat?

Q: What about actually dredging the river? It’s been allowed to build up too much sediment. This comment originated with someone from Holland with expertise.

A: Our coastline is extremely dynamic and can’t be readily compared with Western Europe.

A: Cutting the river is aimed at helping the river flush out.

Q: How much is DoC involved with dune management?

A: can’t answer that. No discussions around that so far. Will come up in consent stage.

Q: Who pays for any works?

A: Mainly 80% targeted rates, plus 20% across the whole region.

Q: Who would cover cost of ongoing management?

A: No-one at the moment. Current consent expires 2020-ish, now held by Horizons Regional Council. No mechanism for Horizons Regional Council to do that and can’t do it arbitrarily.

Q: Has consent been reapplied for?

A: John Foxall has been talking to the Consent Authority asking for a short-term variation.

A good crowd turned up for the meeting.
A good crowd turned up for the meeting.

Q: Any broader environmental impact assessment done with regards to bird, fish etc?

A: Regulatory process will sort that out. Part of Horizons One Plan — will need consultation and consents.

Q: Who will own this? We need to avoid confusion from past decades of no-one owning this.

Q: In future can this issue go to Horizons Regional Council because they’ll take ownership?

A: Yes, providing it gets into the One Plan.

A: Consultation will help with this.

Q: What about cutting further north? (North of the footbridge.)

A: In theory it’s possible. Would remove stream from the community. Would be a nightmare to consent and would have substantial environment effects and could be extremely costly. River will simply head south again. Better would be a series of measures around eg current mouth.

Q: Little confidence in Council consenting process after looking at the map. Why was that subdivision approved? Hard for general folks to understand about salination etc.

A: High level of natural hazards in Horowhenua district. Two staff in Horizons Regional Council deal with all queries around natural hazards information.

Mayor Feyen: Waikawa Beach has shown a lot of strength around other submissions. This has been pretty quick compared to other things. Our community is strong. Wonders how some houses have been consented. Very supportive of Waikawa Beach community — we stood up at Annual Plan and were listened to. Ramon Strong has been extremely helpful.

Cr Lindsay Burnell: it’s taken a while to get to this point. It is an extension of river management. Hard to get this accepted by Council who have a lot of rivers. Could be quicker though. Getting it into Annual Plan will then need consultation. We should be making submissions now, not waiting for consultation period. Consents and RMA are a big problem for all local Government.

Q: Where to from here? We have a list of management options, question of cost.

hat’s the process for us to be able to make sensible submissions?

A: Hinewai Pouwhare-Anderson will be looking at Ōhau-Manakau Scheme. Scheme will be reviewed and that will feed into Long Term Plan update. Aim to keep community informed.

Q from Mayor Feyen: A standard problem everywhere is staff turnover. What say Ramon moves on? Will Horizons Regional Council keep a focus on this issue if staff leave?

A: Ramon’s team is trying to capture institutional knowledge. This is a challenge. Certainty for Waikawa Beach is once it gets into the Long Term Plan.

Q: High-angle groyne will be removed?

Q: Lift rocks and move them?
Q: High-angle groyne is causing damage?

A: Yes. It has not been as effective as hoped at the time. Proposed by Horizons Regional Council technical staff at the time.

Q: Timeframe — seems to be years away before work starts. Can anyone give us written advice and timeframe to help get it fast-tracked?

A: Ramon doesn’t have the capacity to move things along any quicker, plus there’s a statutory requirement. Will keep an eye on it. Another river cut could be done?

John Hewitson, Chair of the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association, speaking to the group.
John Hewitson, Chair of the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association, speaking to the group.

Q: Do Horizons Regional Council liaise or consult with other coastal erosion areas, eg Kāpiti — others must have similar issues?

A: There is an element of uniqueness to Waikawa Beach. Tonkin and Taylor have perspectives from all over NZ. Need to make really good use of money.

John Hewitson thanked Ramon, Hinewai, John for their presentation and attendance. He also thanked the folks who came forward with info and photos at initial consultation. That was very revealing. He also acknowledged the usefulness of the book Bitter Water, written by Deb Shepherd and Laraine Shepherd.

Also thanks to the Miritana Family for continued access to beach. Council have permission to maintain the existing beach track but no-one is to put in alternate tracks to the beach — that’s a condition of our continued access.

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