Flood­ing causes end­less heart­break


When it rains, it pours for Mor­rinsville res­i­dent Ta­nia Smith.

Look­ing for a fresh start in a nice, coun­try town, Smith pur­chased her McPher­son Drive prop­erty, which backed onto the Mor­rinsville Stream in 2014.

‘‘As soon as I saw it, I fell in love,’’ she said.

A gar­dener by trade, Smith got to work mak­ing her back­yard look beau­ti­ful, buy­ing plants, com­post and gar­den or­na­ments.

But when a one-in-50 year storm hit at the be­gin­ning of the year, she watched on as all that hard work was washed away by the river flow­ing through her back­yard.

Now ev­ery time there is heavy rain, her back­yard floods. In April alone, her back­yard flooded at least nine times. She’s re­sorted to clos­ing her lounge cur­tains so she can’t see the dam­age be­ing done.

‘‘I’ve got the point where I can’t face it. It’s heart­break­ing, not just be­cause of the work that we put in, but the money that was spent,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s like hav­ing the bloody Waikato River in your back­yard.’’

Mata­mata-Pi­ako District Coun­cil had ad­vised the af­fected own­ers of houses in the area likely to be flooded of the sit­u­a­tion in writ­ing.

But af­ter nu­mer­ous at­tempts at get­ting answers, Smith feels like she is be­ing ig­nored.

‘‘They orig­i­nally came to me and said if worst comes to worst, coun­cil may look at pur­chas­ing the prop­erty back off me,’’ she said.

‘‘This is my in­vest­ment and my home, and mov­ing is not an op­tion.’’

The prop­erty was sub­di­vided in 2004/05 and at the time the sub­di­vider’s engi­neer cer­ti­fied that the build­ing plat­form was above the flood level of the ad­ja­cent stream.

The house was con­structed in 2005/06 and at that time coun­cil had no in­di­ca­tion that the house could be flooded in a one-in-50 year storm, which is the le­gal re­quire­ment of the Build­ing Act.

There were no con­trols over the depth of flood­ing on the land.

Coun­cil Group Man­ager Busi­ness Ser­vices Manaia Te Wi­ata said in late 2014, staff ex­pressed con­cern that pro­posed de­vel­op­ments in the catch­ment of the Mor­rinsville Stream could ex­ceed its ca­pac­ity.

A con­sul­tant was en­gaged to model the runoff into the stream both now and with the pre­dicted ef­fect of pro­posed de­vel­op­ments, he said.

‘‘About the time this re­port was be­ing fi­nalised (April 2015), a sig­nif­i­cant rain event oc­curred in the catch­ment and this was used to re­fine the model,’’ Te Wi­ata said.

‘‘Since then, coun­cil has in­ves­ti­gated a num­ber of op­tions in­clud­ing en­larg­ing cul­verts and con­struct­ing de­ten­tion ponds but none of th­ese were found to com­pletely elim­i­nate the pos­si­bil­ity of the floor lev­els be­ing flooded. Nor were they cost ef­fec­tive.’’

Coun­cil has taken ad­vice and is not li­able for any losses that the prop­erty owner may have suf­fered and is un­able to of­fer any com­pen­sa­tion in re­la­tion to this mat­ter, he said.

‘‘Coun­cil is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion, how­ever the prop­erty met reg­u­la­tions at the time it was built and coun­cil was un­aware that the in­crease in the in­ten­sity of rain events ex­pe­ri­enced in New Zealand would re­sult in flood­ing of the prop­erty.’’


Ta­nia Smith in her back­yard that be­comes a river dur­ing heavy rain.

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