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The rubber is starting to hit the road in our Shoreline Management Plan project

29 March 2021

Our Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) Committee met last week for their first meeting of the year.

“It’s been a big win to start a co-governance arrangement with iwi, and although it’s still a work in progress, I can’t wait for when we are all together and value their input for this project,” says our Mayor Sandra Goudie, Co-Chair of the Committee. “It’s great to hear the feedback from our Coastal Panels and get a local perspective – that’s what it’s all about.”

Below is a summary of what was discussed, and you can listen to the unedited audio recording of the meeting on our website at tcdc.govt.nz/meetings, or view the full agenda here.

In the meeting:

There was a discussion about having a Waikato Regional Council representative join the Committee, however as Co-Chair David Taipari and member Paul Majurey were absent it was agreed this would be considered at the next meeting when everyone was around the table.

The Committee confirmed Joe Davis and John Linstead of Pare Hauraki as iwi representatives, or a delegate of their choosing, on the SMP Committee. Further discussions on the best way to engage with iwi will continue. There is still an opportunity for iwi representatives to also be appointed to the four Coastal Panels:

  • Thames and Thames Coast
  • Coromandel Town Coast to Kennedy Bay
  • Whangapoua Harbour and Mercury Bay
  • South-East Coast (Tairua, Pauanui and Whangamatā)

Our Council’s Assets and Planning Manager Amon Martin and Sian John from Royal HaskoningDHV presented on behalf of the SMP project team with the latest information on hazard mapping, progress and scope change, that the Coastal Panels have been discussing and as presented at the recent community open days. You can view the presentation here.

“There was a great turn out and engagement at the open days, including our younger generation,” said Thames Ward Councillor Robyn Sinclair. “More public engagement throughout the project would be great.”

Hazard Mapping: Inundation – Shows what could happen around our coastlines

Coastal inundation occurs due to several oceanic processes (shown above) that cause sea levels to increase over short time frames (hours to days) due to tides and storms and over long time frames (decades) due to sea level rise (SLR). These processes are different between the Coromandel’s east coast region, that faces the Pacific Ocean, and west coast, within Hauraki Gulf/Firth of Thames.

Hazard Mapping: Erosion – A lot of work has gone into this and the relevant predicted storm events

Coastal Erosion is caused by wave attack on the beach, dunes and cliffs, particularly when sea levels are high (high tides coupled with storm surge). The energy from large waves is released in the nearshore zone as waves break and 'runup' the beach. Depending on their size, breaking waves can exert significant forces capable of eroding sand (transporting it offshore) and cliffs, relocating large boulders and damaging any infrastructure. The cross-shore location of the beach-profile and shoreline, and their movement associated with sea level rise, long-term landward retreat (recession) and storm erosion events is illustrated here:

“Our coastline has issues and is lacking resilience; this is something we’ve lived with a long time,” says South East Ward Councillor Terry Walker, who is on the SMP committee. “While the topic of sea level rise may bring fear for some people, and it’s not an easy fix, it’s important we put our best foot forward and have a plan in place.”

The presenters went through the Coastal Erosion Hazard Lines maps and Draft Coastal Inundation map for some areas which you can also view here (example pictured right). Thames and Whitianga were identified as the areas with the greatest impact, with Thames being at most risk now and Whitianga in the longer term (50-100 years). They also discussed the potential impact and access issues to Colville.

The project is now focusing on identifying what assets are in these areas and how they will be impacted. This has been presented to the Coastal Panel members to review, then it will be available to the public. There will be public open days on adaptation options later in the year.

“We’re precautionary in the way we do this work – it’s about what could happen and what we can do to prevent it,” says Ms John.

Project progress

The project follows Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE’s) (2017) guidance to councils regarding the coastal adaptation planning process.

Feedback has been obtained from the SMP Project’s Coastal Panels and the public on what they value about the Coromandel and its coastline. To represent values, mind maps have been produced that highlight these valued and show relative importance placed on each value by the size of the word.

Values relating to the coastline of the Coromandel as expressed by our Coastal Panels

Values relating to the coastline of the Coromandel as expressed by the public through the survey

You can view the full SMP project update report here.

The project scope has evolved and more work on understanding the hazards in specific areas is required. The Committee recommended that the initiation of the SMP implementation phase is removed from the scope of the project and the budget utilised for hazard modelling, with review and consideration by the Coastal Panels.

They also asked that further district-wide modelling is done and the budget implications of the actions recommended for progress (Attachment B) are considered by the SMP project team and present to Council for further consideration.

“I would like to acknowledge the work that is going on, it’s a lot, and the commitment of these communities and their willingness to engage which means people are starting to understand the process,” says Mercury Bay Ward Councillor Tony Fox, who is on the SMP Committee.

They agreed for the project team to make a submission to the Long Term Plan on behalf of this Committee and suggested staff arrange for a Council workshop inviting Insurance representatives and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

“I would like to reiterate this is a really important issue that has been brought from the back of our mind’s to the front, and people understand what’s going on in the environment,” says iwi representative Joe Davis. “We don’t know when events are going to happen, that’s beyond our control, but at least it’s being discussed and we’re trying to find solutions.”

The latest factsheets and posters from the open days to help you in completing the survey can be found below:

For more information, please see our website tcdc.govt.nz/smp or to get in touch with us about this project email: ourcoast@tcdc.govt.nz.