From Pauline Stewart.
Amon Martin TCDC Sian John, Contractor Royal Haskoning conducted three public meetings in the last two weeks on the Coromandel, setting out progress on, and implications of, the Coastal Pathways Protection Plan for the Coromandel Peninsula. The aim was to bring the community up to date as to what TCDC is doing as a result of their award-winning Coastal Pathways Protection three-year study undertaken and completed in 2022.
The meetings were ably led and presented. The following is excerpts from the Whitianga gathering.
There is no doubt that TCDC is treating what can be done logically and urgently. Limited budget from a small population is a huge factor in determining what can be done and when.
Pathways was a key word at the meetings, denoting flexibility and adaptability for plans to be changed. If one method doesn’t work, then a new pathway can be found and enabled. For example, if planting doesn’t work in one area, then a new pathway can be adopted.
Sian of Royal Haskoning explained that the meetings were all about the actions that are urgent and the important of them being prioritised. She confirmed that, “The Council Plan has now moved into the implementation phase which is the Shoreline Management Pathways Project.”
Background: Sian explained that a study had been done of all 400 kms of shoreline of the Coromandel Peninsula. This gave a complete overview to make it equitable and to be able to identify from the entire coastline, what aspects of that coastline and what places where most at risk.
As a result of that work, 138 pathways (different stretches of coastline) were identified.
Some stretches required one pathway while others required multiple pathways. For example, Whitianga required a number of different pathways - for Inner Harbour, Outer Harbour, Brophys Beach, Buffalo Beach and Whangapoa.
Of the 138 pathways identified, 89 were active pathways, meaning “something will happen in the next 100 years in the face climate change.”
The other 49 were identified as nothing needs to happen in the current 10-year plan.
50 locations of the 89 required short-term action between 0-10 years which is the current Long-Term Plan before TCDC. In these 50 locations, included such projects as raising houses, planting, building sea walls, beach management, Sian reported.
Strategy to cope with Reality: There are 30,000 ratepayers which is not a large economic base. Sian asked rhetorically, “How can this challenge be addressed effectively? We cannot begin to take on 50 locations at the same time.”
To decide priorities, a dual factor assessment was undertaken. The two broad criteria used were.
1) URGENCY a time pressure of 1-3 years, then 3-10 years (short term), next, 10-30 years (medium). “We have just decided on the first 0-10 ten-year actions,” says Sian.
2) IMPORTANCE – this was a far more tricky to assess equitably.
Five different criteria used to assess the importance of what actions can be taken.
1) What is the social value?
2) What is the environmental harm?
3) What’s the economic value at risk?
4) What is the adaptive capacity? (e.g., Caravan Park can be moved so its adaptive capacity is high)
5) What is the value to Tangata Whenua?
Personal consultation was held in different areas to help decide outcomes.
URGENT AND IMPORTANT list (0 -3 years)
1 - Coromandel Wharf Road; 2 - Thames - Detailed design for stophank enhancement, and combined flood modelling + fundraising; 3 - Te Puru South;3 - Buffalo Beach Reserve; 5 - Buffalo Beach North; 7 - Whangamata Beach South; 7 Te Puru North.
Every pathway on the above list is high priority (complete list on TCDC website).
Critical Mercury Bay locations: (presented by Amon).
1) Buffalo Beach - North (includes Ohuka Reserve – the gap between the two different abetments - Buffalo Beach Reserve, and Buffalo Beach South - there is a part wall there.
“If you get a .2 metre sea rise, there will be implications for this community that we need to take action to avoid. This is predicted to be about 24 years away.”
The immediate strategy is to maintain and rehabilitate the dunes maintain existing defences – the existing wall.
The decision that wasn’t taken was what to do in the case of a .4 metre sea level rise. That decision is ahead.
2) Brophys Beach - “The main question has been: Why haven’t we done anything sooner?” says Amon. Response summary: The sandbags have been damaged before, so we had to step back and do something different. We do not want to go the Resource Consent route. A new consent can take 6 months. For more resilience, we will put another sandbag wall behind the existing one - we can start next week. The order is in, and they have arrived. The work can start as early as next week. In a big storm event, the water and sand will still go over, but this action will reduce the impact significantly.
Q: “Is this seen as a temporary plan before you come up with a better plan?”
A: “We need to lift things up but not in the next ten years.”
3) Shark Bite – this does need a Resource Consent - TCDC is putting together a 90-page submission to Waikato Regional Council.
Closing comment from Peter Grant, local resident:
“I have been involved with coastal erosion for 60 years. We had as much rain and storm weather from Hale and Gabrielle as other areas in Auckland and they were devastated. But Mercury Bay was not. Two days after, everything was functioning and no flooding on the roads.
Whitianga has a flood plain here, there are ‘holding water‘ areas.
Water will always come over, but it will disperse again. People don’t need to get inundated with water level rise and climate change. We have a flood plain that can take the water away and we have the Waterways which control the effects of flooding. Now we are using them. If that had been done 30 years ago, we would not have lost 200 metres of reserve.
We are on the coast, yet Mercury Bay is one of the safest places. He thanked the Working Group – and Sian and Amon and acknowledged that they were listening to people and doing something about it. All felt a productive approach was in place.
This is only a portion of the plans and action ahead. Please access the TCDC website.
Brophy's Beach restoration
Work starts with impromptu on-site meeting for Brophys beach. The project was announced at the 16 September, Saturday’s meeting of the Coastal Protection Pathway Project at Whitianga Town Hall; - work would soon commence at Brophys Beach as one of the urgent and important projects of the Pathway Strategy. Lo and behold! It started on Monday, 11 September and locals were invited to meet informally, with local TCDC personnel working on the
project - Jamie Boyle, coastal scientist and Tanya Patrick of Parks and Reserves They have many
questions but are glad to see some preventative action.
Caption: A diagram of the work to be completed at Brophys Beach over the next month and a half.