Re­al­ism urged in re­build


It will take 600 tonnes of rock and cost about $35,000 to re­pair the sea wall at Ruby Bay, which took a ham­mer­ing in a storm that hit the dis­trict on Fe­bru­ary 1.

How­ever, in an at-times frac­tious meet­ing at the Ma­pua Com­mu­nity Hall on Tues­day evening, Tas­man dis­trict mayor Richard Kempthorne and some coun­cil staff were told by some res­i­dents that the wall was not good enough. Those res­i­dents called for a bet­ter wall.

The com­bi­na­tion of a king tide and a storm surge from the rem­nants of Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Fehi brought the sea crash­ing onto land across the Nel­son-Tas­man re­gion on Fe­bru­ary 1.

Low-ly­ing Ruby Bay was badly hit and many peo­ple were evac­u­ated from their flooded homes.

It was stand­ing room only at the hall on Tues­day when Kempthorne and his team out­lined op­tions for re­build­ing the dam­aged coun­cil sec­tions of the wall. There are also some pri­vate sea walls along the coast.

Coun­cil re­cov­ery man­ager Adrian Humphries pro­vided a brief his­tory of the three sec­tions of wall for which there are re­source con­sents un­til 2044.

He also said a sur­vey would be made so the coun­cil could as­sess the ef­fec­tive­ness and suit­abil­ity of the ex­ist­ing struc­tures and iden­tify work that could be com­pleted within the pa­ram­e­ters of the ex­ist­ing re­source con­sents.

If the res­i­dents wanted a mod­i­fied wall, there were a ‘‘few hur­dles’’ in the way.

‘‘First off, you need a re­source con­sent and that’s not guar­an­teed be­cause a lot of peo­ple just think we should let the sea do its thing,’’ Humphries said.

How­ever, if the con­sent was granted, the work might re­sult in peo­ple on the seafront los­ing some land. The fi­nanc­ing would also have to be iden­ti­fied.

When a mem­ber of the au­di­ence sug­gested the coun­cil charge more across the dis­trict, Humphries re­sponded: ‘‘You’ve got to con­vince a ratepayer in Ta­paw­era to pay for a sea wall in Ruby Bay.’’

Kempthorne urged peo­ple to be ‘‘re­al­is­tic’’.

‘‘There’s a lot of angst here and that’s un­der­stand­able but the re­al­ity is if you ex­pect all the ratepay­ers in the dis­trict to pay for rock pro­tec­tion that ben­e­fits pri­mar­ily cer­tain peo­ple, then the like­li­hood of that get­ting through the coun­cil with sup­port is not great,’’ the mayor said.

Some peo­ple raised con­cern about as­pects of the emer­gency re­sponse on the day.

Humphries said many peo­ple were vol­un­teers or had civil de­fence du­ties on top of their reg­u­lar jobs.

‘‘So they’re un­der pres­sure; they’ve only got so much time,’’ he said. ‘‘I ap­pre­ci­ate it was dis­jointed on the day and that’s some­thing that we’ve learnt from but it’s the re­al­ity.’’

One per­son was missed in a house on Tait St, which was ‘‘un­for­tu­nate’’.

‘‘So that means that we need to do some ad­di­tional train­ing with some of our re­spon­ders,’’ Humphries said. ‘‘We’re not per­fect; we’re hu­man be­ings.’’

In re­sponse to queries about whether there could have been more warn­ing, Nel­son Tas­man Civil De­fence Emer­gency Man­age­ment group con­troller Roger Ball said the storm was fore­cast for sev­eral days pre­vi­ously.

‘‘But I think, what caught a lot of peo­ple by sur­prise is what I call the tri­fecta – that re­ally deep low, those very high winds on top of the king tide. Could it have been pre­dicted? Hind­sight’s a won­der­ful thing.’’

He en­cour­aged the res­i­dents to sign up to re­ceive MetSer­vice warn­ings.


Philip Mar­shall, left and Pete Archibald of band Cruise Con­trol per­form at the Nel­son Wine and Food Fes­ti­val in 2017.


It was stand­ing room only at a meet­ing for storm-af­fected res­i­dents in Ma­pua on Tues­day evening.

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