In­her­i­tance be­ing washed away

Taranaki Daily News - - News - Deena Coster

Wat­son Irv­ing feels like all he can do now is watch on while his in­her­i­tance washes away into the sea.

The Welling­ton man owns one of two houses at the end of Tu­rangi Rd Lower in Mo­tunui, north Taranaki, a prop­erty gifted to him by his mother. Both houses are un­oc­cu­pied and are sit­ting pre­car­i­ously on the edge of the dis­ap­pear­ing cliff.

The area is the lat­est hotspot of con­cern in the district as the forces of ero­sion eat away at the Taranaki coast­line.

It’s a prob­lem plagu­ing other parts of the coun­try too, like Pe­tone, in Welling­ton, where some prop­er­ties could be­come unin­sur­able as a re­sult.

This is al­ready the case for Irv­ing, who said he had spent years try­ing to pro­tect his as­set.

His ef­forts have in­cluded on­go­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion with New Ply­mouth District Coun­cil (NPDC) along with an at­tempt to build a re­tain­ing wall, which was ul­ti­mately re­jected by of­fi­cials, Irv­ing said.

Now the house, which he de­scribed as ‘‘con­demned’’, was unin­sur­able and get­ting ever closer to the cliff’s edge.

‘‘It’s very close to that hap­pen­ing.’’

He said the coun­cil had lacked lead­er­ship on the is­sue and he felt he had also run out of op­tions.

‘‘I want to keep it (the house and sec­tion) as much as I can but fi­nan­cially it’s cost­ing me money,’’ he said.

Ka­t­rina Brun­ton, New Ply­mouth District Coun­cil (NPDC) cus­tomer and reg­u­la­tory so­lu­tions man­ager, said two peo­ple had con­tacted it about coastal ero­sion in the Tu­rangi Rd Lower area this year.

‘‘The north Taranaki coast is con­stantly chang­ing and how we man­age coastal ero­sion in gen­eral is a New Zealand wide is­sue.

‘‘While we sym­pa­thise with com­mu­ni­ties fac­ing this chal­lenge, NPDC’s role un­der leg­is­la­tion is to pro­tect sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic struc­tures,’’ Brun­ton said in a writ­ten state­ment.

She said if prop­erty own­ers in coastal ar­eas wanted to con­struct their own pri­vate sea­wall, they needed to talk to Taranaki Re­gional Coun­cil.

Brun­ton said two build­ings on Tu­rangi Road Lower were con­sid­ered un­safe and needed work in or­der to com­ply with Build­ing Act rules.

‘‘We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor this area and work with the own­ers to en­sure pub­lic safety,’’ she said.

Safety is also the con­cern of other res­i­dents too, who say the two homes at risk of be­ing claimed by the en­croach­ing ocean could put other beach­go­ers at risk.

Mary and Layton King, who have lived in the area for more than 20 years, were wor­ried de­bris from the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing prop­er­ties could also be a haz­ard in the fre­quent high winds that blow through the area, with the pos­si­bil­ity it could be picked up and thrown up into nearby prop­er­ties or down to the beach be­low.

Layton King said this could be dan­ger­ous to beach­go­ers as the area was a pop­u­lar spot in the sum­mer months, with peo­ple col­lect­ing kaimoana, fish­ing and walk­ing.

‘‘We’re re­ally con­cerned about the safety as­pect of it and the en­vi­ron­ment as well,’’ Mary King added.

Layton King said he had been in touch with NPDC to voice his con­cerns about the risks, but had no re­sponse.

The Kings were acutely aware of the re­lent­less na­ture of coastal ero­sion in their neigh­bour­hood.

Mary King said a po¯hutukawa tree near the carpark had been a re­cent vic­tim.

"The seas just came and gob­bled that up.’’

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