But more engagement needed in CHB.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council reports that it is nearly finished the repair of Central Hawke’s Bay stopbank breaches on the Tukituki and Waipawa rivers, while repairs to about 5 kilometres of stopbanks on the Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri rivers have also been completed.
In Central Hawke’s Bay, gravel is also being removed from rivers and streams. Gravel extraction was taking place at 62 sites across the Upper Tukituki and Waipawa rivers, as well as on the Makraretu, Tulip and Mangaonuku streams.
Regional Council Group Manager Asset Management Chris Dolley said there were five teams working at Stockade Road, Tapairu Road, Walker Road, Waipawa Town Scours and Stablefords.
The workers are using locally sourced materials found near the breach and scour sites which is then compacted, covered in silt and topsoil and reseeded with grass, he said.
Regional Council’s Jon Kingsford, who has led the Rapid Repair Team, said the grass was important to ensure the layers bind together and resist any flow of river across the surface.
Dolley said some members of the Waipawa community were concerned about the level of gravel near the Waipawa township, however a survey had showed that gravel in the Waipawa river was at the right height above sea level.
Along with breaches, erosion has also occurred to 26 kms of the network of stop banks across the region, which would be addressed once the stop bank work was completed.
Regional Council Chair Hinewai Ormsby said stop bank repairs across the region were a significant milestone in the cyclone recovery.
“These repairs were an absolute focus for the Regional Council, and have been completed in a short time frame, thanks to the hard work of a dedicated team of contractors and consultants, all of whom were motivated to get it done, to protect our community.”
However, after repairs there would be a focus on getting the stop banks returned to pre-cyclone standards, Kingsford said.
“I do want to thank the fantastic support we have received from our local contractors and consultants, and those who came to work with us from outside the region. We couldn’t have done this without them.”
HBRC is currently reviewing its flood protection assets with an eye to making improvements so that they can perform well in any future flooding events.
Chair Ormsby said this could include changes such as secondary flow paths or catchment detention.
“We will do this in collaboration with our community and will gather feedback from people who were impacted by the cyclone,” she said.
Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker said an incredible amount of work had occurred, with the near completion of total reinstatement of stop banks.
“We have come a long way in a short time. In addition, the re-diversion and stop-banking which has reinstated the Waipawa River flow back towards the Tukituki rather than flowing through the Papanui catchment is a major piece of work. I understand this is nearly completed too.
“As well as protecting life and property, the pace of this work has been vital to restoring community confidence and mental wellbeing.”
The community was less confident about the long-term management of gravel, stop bank maintenance and Chilean Needle Grass control, which could be addressed by locally led catchment-specific leadership, she said.
“Our community struggles to see how HBRC are gathering local information and making decisions on their behalf. I am confident that the leadership of HBRC know and understand this, and I am expecting we will see changes to their level of engagement and participation in CHB. We need to take a bolder view of what a resilient future looks like around our rivers,” Walker said.
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