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ENVIRONMENT

EROSION AND FLOODING THREATEN BUT LITTLE ACTION

This is an aerial view of Buffalo Beach and clearly seen is Mother Brown’s Creek or Taputapuatea Stream flowing down to the ocean. In this photo it was a tidal small river. There are storm water drains positioned to assist the overflow of water to and from the ocean and river in times of deluge.
 |  Pauline Stewart  | 
Taputapuatea Stream Whitianga

You can see circled the mouth of the stream and Taputapuatea Bridge, also circled is the Boating Club where it used to be, and the home of Warren Harris  and Suzie Fletcher’s home.

Now there is no tidal action at the mouth of the stream; the flow has stopped and no flow under the  bridge.

Taputapuatea Stream Whitianga

A large sand bank gave way during Hale and Gabriel and it has filled the mouth and added to it are a series of dumpings of debris from throughout the past winter rains.

What was clear ground is now overgrown and the wetlands around the stream are clogged with undergrowth and the smell is foul. The flow has stopped, not because of the volume of water or that the direction of flow has structurally changed; there has been little done by any authority to make a difference to this situation.

Warren Harris and Suzie Fletcher live on opposite sides of Buffalo Beach Road. Warren’s home is facing severe erosion if something is not done to protect the homes between the road and the Bay. He represents a number of home owners.

He is also just metres from Buffalo Beach Road which is also State Highway 25. The road is as vulnerable as the homes. Concrete blocks, a line of large stones and the Boating Clubhouse on stilts between Warren’s home and the ocean are a crude reminder of how past proposals, plans and actions have not worked.

Suzie Fletcher approached The Informer out of frustration and great concern at the knowledge that she is surrounded by wetlands that can only flood her entire property if there is another decent storm and deluge because there is nowhere for the water to flow.

Mother Brown Creek Whitianga

As try as she might to be heard and get some kind of plan of action, there has been no clearing of vegetation and the stream mouth is so silted that flow is backed up way beyond her home. Many of the surrounding homes are lower than hers Bird life has almost disappeared and the rats have arrived.

Last issue (Tuesday, 13 February) Warren Harris  spoke about the lack of action and the danger of flooding and erosion that his home and many others live with every year. They know there will be another Cyclone Bola or Gabrielle. They want to prepare for it and for a future that they know makes them very vulnerable.

Warren continues his story.

The edict for many years now has been, ‘No hard fill or no hard structures.’  It is all across the country. How could any government make one ruling for an entire island nation when many of the current stone walls (hard structures) have saved countless sections of coastal roads and saved people’s homes?

I can understand the science that the ocean is rising and storms are becoming more frequent. Sorting out facts of the what and how of Climate Change and Global Warming doesn’t clearly add up. Yes, the ocean is very powerful but why is retreat the only solution? That is the latter part I do not understand or accept. Holland would hardly exist if the Dutch had taken that attitude. The have raised magnificent structures and have ocean and river diversions to take and hold the water in peak flood times They direct where it goes and channel and contain however much the deluge determines. They didn’t  just say, “It’s all too hard.”

The Mayor has spoken often at meetings of the 400 kilometres of coastline and about the Coastal Protection Policy document – three years of work. It is good research but the research on the river systems that connect with the ocean has not been done and they have a major effect on flooding and erosion especially when they meet up with the ocean. These points need to be a focus of decisive action.

We have one serious situation right here at Mother Brown’s Creek or Taputapuatea Spit.  What about just measuring the coastline where we need to do the work to protect the homes of people who are choosing to use science to help them protect their homes?

To urge retreat as the only solution and saying that to a nation of people many of whom live near the beach, without detail of options and with a policy of no rock walls, what value is on the very homes to whom the Councils granted the owners a Resource Consent to build? Those owners pay their rates and their taxes and are witness to often tardy treatment by local authorities.

If a home is already there and it has not yet been washed away, then why not do everything to protect it.

Across the road(SH25) from ‘Wozza’, is a quarter acre block on which sits the Fletcher home and the workshop of the late Mr Fletcher, Suzie’s husband.