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Coastal erosion a major concern

Coastal erosion along Mahia Peninsula roads is a major concern for the Wairoa District Council.

Council is currently working on five different dropouts in the Mahia area with safety a paramount concern.

On the Mahia East Coast Road there are three dropouts, one near the Cactus, one near Whangawehi and worst one at the Waitepatu Culvert at Te Mahia.

Council has serious concerns around the Waitepatu Culvert and is assessing the site, including a geotechnical assessment, and looking at preventative options.

The site had an existing crib wall in place which had been already been identified as needing replacement.

Work on a repair solution began 18-months ago and a major limitation identified with the land required for the road realignment being culturally significant.

Wairoa District Council chief executive Steven May said the Waitepatu site is an absolute priority and staff have been working through options to try and find a solution.

“The timing around this work is very unfortunate. We had identified the crib wall needed replacing but we did not expect it to fail so quickly.

“Part of that identification process included starting design work with options then becoming limited because of the wāhi tapu on the land immediately adjacent to the site.

“We now have a design which we believe will remedy the situation but cannot begin work until the spring. The project cost is around $600,000.

Remediation/reinstatement plans for the other two sites are also being worked on.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little also wants long-term solutions to the problems.

“Mahia is beautiful, but like the rest of New Zealand coastline erosion is a very real concern.

“The blowhole dropout at the end of Black’s Beach is a classic example of coastal erosion at its worst, and the power of mother nature.

“That is the gateway to Mahia yet has been reduced to one lane after slipping and a significant crack across the centre line in the road occurred.

“We have been trying so many options to get a fix, including pushing the road away from the coastline and closer to the rail line but this option was rejected by Kiwirail.

“In desperation we have now made an application through the Provincial Growth Fund for funding to provide a long-term solution to the coastal erosion issues along Black’s Beach.

“We simply do not have the money to deal with an issue of this size and are seeking support from Central Government.

“This is not new, the blowhole area has been on the move for years with residents recalling a significant subsidence in the 1950s.

“The slip plane has been exacerbated by erosion and saturated soils.

“There has been successive block movements around the blowhole and a concrete beam which had been installed to try and stop the slipping is no longer effective.”

Mr Little said significant movement remains a very real threat at Mahia’s Kinikini Road where there is a major dropout past Taylor’s Bay.

“Again, we have been working on design options and will meet with a landowner in a bid to purchase land to design a long-term solution.

“This Council is just as frustrated as members of the public. It is taking too long to find solutions despite the fact we are trying to work as quickly as possible.

“I understand the concerns of the Mahia community, and I thank people for the patience that has been shown.”

21 May 2019

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