Here’s an aerial video documenting the extensive slip damage along Ocean Beach in the past week.

For about the first two minutes of the six minute video, you’ll be flying over the southern portions of Ocean Beach that were to be developed, starting with a glimpse of the existing baches at the entrance to the beach, before turning north. At 1:45 you’re over a deep gully that would have marked the northern end of development; a few seconds later the predator proof fence comes into view.

Much of the footage was shot over Haupouri Station … and the videographer titled it appropriately … ‘Haupouri Disaster’.

Haupouri Disaster

Now, amplify that disaster by adding the prospect of several hundred homes stuck into the midst of this! That’s what we’d have today if the Ocean Beach development plans had gone forward. A community larger than Waimarama you might recall.

Then read these two excerpts from page 1 of the peer review commissioned by Hastings Council on the applicant’s Geotechnical Report:

“Landslide risk considerations are a major component in evaluating the feasibility of the future development that will be provided for by the proposed changes to the Hastings District Plan. Most development zones are either located on a landslide, or are situated at the toe or crest of a landslide (or possible future landslides) with the potential to be affected by them.” And …

“… the reports do not evaluate the risks, or the residual risks likely to remain following the implementation of any mitigating engineering solutions. These need to be reviewed against risks that are tolerable to the local community and the Council. The hazards have been identified and solutions have been suggested, however there is no quantification of risk. Whilst we accept that the mitigating measures proposed are technically feasible and are often an acceptable engineering solution, it would be useful to consider their appropriateness in the context of site specific landslide risk.”

In true “cover thy butt” form, the waffling consultants went on to recommend more study and risk analysis.

Fortunately the development was stopped … by the people (who, it would appear from this video, accurately assessed the risk!), with elected officials trailing in our wake.

Tom Belford

P.S. You can help with Waimarama clean-up on weekend of May 7-8 … sign-up info here.

P.P.S. Was this Baybuzz post forwarded to you by a friend? Maybe it’s time to sign up for free BayBuzz updates of your own.

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  1. Thanks Tom for showing the urbanites the extensiveness of last weeks weather bomb.This is as bad or worse than Cyclone Bola but appears to have less coverage from media.

    Thanks for the reports.

  2. The wonders of modern technology means that we can all take a low-level flight over the disaster area without any more aircraft scaring sheep into deep mud where the farmer has to extract them – as if they haven't got enough to worry about.

    Tom, I think that the consultants got it pretty right without the need for comments like 'cover thy butt' and 'waffling'. They could hardly be expected to predict a hundred-year rain bomb within the decade. Surely no one would now not be relieved that the development did not eventuate, and good for all those who opposed it.

    But there is little to be gained by dwelling on what could have happened, but didn't. We must focus our minds on the challenge of seeking to protect our vulnerable hillcountry landscape from the next rain bomb which will surely come, when and where we cannot tell.

    Surely the obvious message to emerge from those few minutes of viewing the video is the way the land under forestry has stood up to the storm. We must find ways of returning trees to this country in a manner that can be accommodated by the landowner, and it will not a simple. Surely you can see this Tom and promote it, rather than mocking those who promote tree cultivation, as you did in more than one instance last year.

    Finally, a comment on the comparison between this storm and Bola. This storm hit the coast margin of H B but fortunately did not preceed inland to any extent. Bola covered a huge area from East Cape to CHB and was not confined to the coast. Incidently, it also had a sting in its tail and jumped across to the north western tip of the S I, wiping out at least one bridge on the Heaphy track. A woman tramper was drowned crossing the river, the only fatality in Bola. (I was in Nelson during Bola, and had my pack and tramping boots ready to walk the track, but was thus unable to.)

  3. When did we stop having storms, cyclones, tempests, hurricanes & all the other wholly suitable words for describing dramatic weather & replace all with the awful 'weather/rain bomb?'

    I can picture Jim Hickey playing pocket billiards while spouting nonsense words for the weather, which is where I'm sure all this crap started.

  4. Here's how clean-up at Ocean Beach is progressing, courtesy of a release from the Ocean Beach Civil Defence team …

    A visual check of the hill road down to the Ocean Beach Surf Club and Ocean Beach settlement at 6am this morning confirmed that despite fears the early morning rainfall had not triggered new slips on the road.

    Dawn Bennett Ocean Beach Civil Defence Co-ordinator and a resident of Ocean Beach says that it was a huge relief that the road had not been deluged with more mud and silt.

    However, the road surface is dangerously greasy and she strongly recommended that the road remained closed.

    Dawn said that the responsiveness and communication during the task of clearing the road last week could not be faulted. Her debrief report will confirm the processes that worked well and will highlight for future management where it needs to be strengthened.

    In particular, the identification of resources that should be available to Ocean Beach Civil Defence in the event of an emergency. She said the local Surf Life Saving Club was a case in point.

    Discussions, will be held with the NZ Surf Life Saving Association concerning future resource availability. Also to ensure there is a clear understanding at a local level of the protocol, where a Civil Defence State of Emergency is declared.

    Since the State of Emergency was declared on Wednesday 27th April, she has been kept very busy identifying and initiating resources to manage the clean up. She said Kepa Toa Supervisor for Hastings District Council MAX group, responded without hestitation to her call by bringing 6 of his team out to assist with the clean up yesterday morning.

    Local contractor Evan from Davies Waste Solutions arrived on Sunday evening to assess the situation. Yesterday morning his team returned and began removing debris from the bridge supports, clearing septic tanks as a precautionary measure and removing silt and water from the worst affected properties.

    Dawn said she was pleased to see the Team Leader and Co-ordinator for Building Inspectors arrive yesterday afternoon. Eight of the premises are now tagged with the red stickers. The insurance assessor is expected this afternoon.

    Hopefully she said, our all women Ocean Beach Civil Defence team can now stand down and take a well earned rest. She was very proud of how they have managed the situation over the past 6 days especially as two of the team were now homeless as a result of the flood.

  5. Thanks Tom, my immediate reaction to the flyover was that I saw nothing unexpected. This is the nature of the materials, recent soils developed in soft rock that has been rapidly uplifted to form steep slopes. It was interesting to note what appeared to be much less soil movement in the forested areas.

  6. How many of the slips that reportedly have taken out 50-70% (in some cases) of a given farm's productive land would have occured if farmers actually followed good land management practices and left (or planted) trees to stabilise the hillsides? Not many… if any, as the song says.

    Quite simply, clear-felled pasture + heavy rain = environmental disaster.

    WHEN are they going to learn? And now we (the taxpayers, via Govt assistance) are to pay compensation? Folly on folly; we are paying them NOT to learn.

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