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We have quite steep land in the Coromandel and a lot of bush. We get these flash flooding type situations, very heavy rains for hours. It might not happen for a while then bang. And it’s not just the heavy rainfall but slips. They create dams, and all of a sudden they let go. The water comes down, and we have a lot of little settlements next to the sea.

Ours are small schemes. Te Puru, Waiomu, Pohue and Coromandel were put in after the weather bomb of 2002, and a new one at Graham’s Creek in Tairua was opened about two years ago. They are our main assets, mostly stopbanking, rock protection along the streams, but we also do river maintenance to keep the streams open.

People do moan about the rates, but anyone who has lived in these areas when the floods came through, and saw the devastation, they’re very happy to pay; they know the risk of what can happen. When it comes to paying for it, people need to think about community. Everyone contributes: we all use the shops, roads and recreational areas; and those who benefit most pay more. It’s a fair system.

Also, if you live in an area that can flood badly, you wouldn’t get insurance if you don’t have a flood scheme in place. Insurance companies will say “nope, if you’re going to be flooding every couple of years we won’t cover you”. Now, the risk of Te Puru Stream is such that the people living there won’t be stuffed. They have a stopbank protecting them.

When that water came down, it went through the campground and all the houses on the seaside. My friend owned the campground and I loaned him my tractor. It took him a couple of months to clean up. There was a foot of silt and mud, and all through the caravans. Trees had come down and smashed things. Just massive damage.

In Waiomu, the water also came down through a campground. A lady was washed out to sea in a caravan and drowned. After that the regional council bought the campground and turned it into flood land; a nice reserve for people to run their dogs on and it gives the river an extra amount of land it can cover without risk to anyone.

With Graham’s Creek, there was flooding happening every year, creating issues with properties. The community wanted a solution, and we worked closely with them, and now they have greater peace of mind.

Flood protection costs hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. The community has to look at the costings; it has to be something that is affordable, and that doesn’t rate them out of existence.

The past has shown us that we need our assets and they provide good value. Flooding is always going to happen sooner or later, and having the infrastructure in place is cheaper than the cost of the devastation.

Coromandel Zone

  • Includes the Te Puru, Waiomu-Pohue, Coromandel, Tapu and Graham’s Creek (Tairua) flood protection schemes.

  • Schemes constructed between 2005 and 2016.

  • Replacement cost of about $2.9m.

  • Includes 2.6km of stopbanks and floodwalls, and 5 floodgates.

 

Caravans on their sides after a flood hit.

During the weather bomb of 2002, two campgrounds up the Thames Coast were taken out by flash floods.

 

"Flooding is always going to happen sooner or later, and having the infrastructure in place is cheaper than the cost of the devastation."

 

Flood walls being built in Te Puru

Flood walls were built to protect the community of Te Puru following the 2002 weather bomb.