Little comfort from waiapu talks

No need to wait for runanga’s plan say riverbank landowners

No need to wait for runanga’s plan say riverbank landowners

MORE FRUSTRATION: Riverbank property owners along the Waiapu River remain frustrated about the slow progress on defining options to protect their land from the erosive effects of the mighty river. They believe they have found a simple, natural solution themselves that has so far been largely ignored by “the powers that be”. File picture

WAIAPU riverbank landowner Warwick Olsen takes no comfort from last week’s council discussions around protection works on the Waiapu River.

He believes other riverbank landowners will feel the same.

At that meeting local district councillor Bill Burdett raised the issue of a perceived lack of action in ensuring flood protection for the Ruatoria district.

He asked where Waiapu flood protection fitted into the Joint Management Agreement (JMA) between Gisborne District Council and Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou over the Waiapu catchment.

GDC transformation and relationships director Keita Kohere said the council had to work with iwi to implement a JMA, and late last year the runanga placed a work programme before the council.

The runanga had indicated to the council it needed to do more work before the catchment plan for the Waiapu could be started, which would be in about eight months time.

“The riverbank property owners remain frustrated about the time it has been taking to get some firm decisions on what will be done to curb riverbank erosion along the Waiapu,” Mr Olsen said.

“Last week’s council discussion was a repetition of the same old bull...t we’ve heard for years.

“We, the riverbank landowners, have already laid out a plan for the work and it’s ready to roll as soon as the planting season comes in May.”

He said there was no need to wait eight months for the runanga’s plan.

“Our plan is already in motion and has been put to the Ministry for Primary Industries.”

Mr Olsen said the landowners had waited long enough for action on the issue.

“In the past two years I have lost a football-sized field of my land to the river, and others have been hit the same way.”

He said there needed to be proper consultation now between the council, the runanga and the people affected by riverbank erosion.

“We, the riverbank landowners, are the gatekeepers of the Waiapu.

“What was talked about at that council meeting last week gave no firm indication at all as far as we are concerned.”

Mr Olsen said the field day held at the river last year demonstrated that there was a natural way “to heal the river”.

“We have been using manuka bushes and willow poles to protect the bank.

“The wire used to bind the manuka and the poles together is the only unnatural part of it.”

He said as the river flowed through the scrub it dropped silt and that built the bank back up.

“Then we replant that re-established section of bank.

“We were hoping for some recognition of our efforts from the powers that be, but the council and the runanga have so far divorced themselves from the equation, and they wonder why we are getting angry.

“The wairua (spirit) of the people who are really connected to the river, those who are alongside it, has been largely ignored.”

Mr Olsen said the riverbank residents had proof that their erosion-control methods worked.

“It’s about gently persuading the river to flow more out into the main stream.”

He also pointed to what he calls the inappropriate design of the revetment wall built to protect the land above the bend in the river between Ruatoria and Tikitiki, to protect State Highway 35.

“The river has three currents. An upper, middle and lower current and the flow must be kept even.

“Because that revetment wall is vertical the flow hits it and creates a whirlpool a hundred metres across in times of heavy flow.

“It’s scary. That whirlpool is causing further damage downstream to banks on both sides.

“The revetment wall should be sloped to reduce the impact of the water flow hitting the bank at that point.”

Mr Olsen said the riverbank residents continued to hope for proper consultation and the right solutions.

“The Waiapu can be a devastating river. You have to really respect it.”

Community group Te Riu o Waiapu will hold a meeting at Tikitiki School tomorrow to discuss the situation further.

WAIAPU riverbank landowner Warwick Olsen takes no comfort from last week’s council discussions around protection works on the Waiapu River.

He believes other riverbank landowners will feel the same.

At that meeting local district councillor Bill Burdett raised the issue of a perceived lack of action in ensuring flood protection for the Ruatoria district.

He asked where Waiapu flood protection fitted into the Joint Management Agreement (JMA) between Gisborne District Council and Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou over the Waiapu catchment.

GDC transformation and relationships director Keita Kohere said the council had to work with iwi to implement a JMA, and late last year the runanga placed a work programme before the council.

The runanga had indicated to the council it needed to do more work before the catchment plan for the Waiapu could be started, which would be in about eight months time.

“The riverbank property owners remain frustrated about the time it has been taking to get some firm decisions on what will be done to curb riverbank erosion along the Waiapu,” Mr Olsen said.

“Last week’s council discussion was a repetition of the same old bull...t we’ve heard for years.

“We, the riverbank landowners, have already laid out a plan for the work and it’s ready to roll as soon as the planting season comes in May.”

He said there was no need to wait eight months for the runanga’s plan.

“Our plan is already in motion and has been put to the Ministry for Primary Industries.”

Mr Olsen said the landowners had waited long enough for action on the issue.

“In the past two years I have lost a football-sized field of my land to the river, and others have been hit the same way.”

He said there needed to be proper consultation now between the council, the runanga and the people affected by riverbank erosion.

“We, the riverbank landowners, are the gatekeepers of the Waiapu.

“What was talked about at that council meeting last week gave no firm indication at all as far as we are concerned.”

Mr Olsen said the field day held at the river last year demonstrated that there was a natural way “to heal the river”.

“We have been using manuka bushes and willow poles to protect the bank.

“The wire used to bind the manuka and the poles together is the only unnatural part of it.”

He said as the river flowed through the scrub it dropped silt and that built the bank back up.

“Then we replant that re-established section of bank.

“We were hoping for some recognition of our efforts from the powers that be, but the council and the runanga have so far divorced themselves from the equation, and they wonder why we are getting angry.

“The wairua (spirit) of the people who are really connected to the river, those who are alongside it, has been largely ignored.”

Mr Olsen said the riverbank residents had proof that their erosion-control methods worked.

“It’s about gently persuading the river to flow more out into the main stream.”

He also pointed to what he calls the inappropriate design of the revetment wall built to protect the land above the bend in the river between Ruatoria and Tikitiki, to protect State Highway 35.

“The river has three currents. An upper, middle and lower current and the flow must be kept even.

“Because that revetment wall is vertical the flow hits it and creates a whirlpool a hundred metres across in times of heavy flow.

“It’s scary. That whirlpool is causing further damage downstream to banks on both sides.

“The revetment wall should be sloped to reduce the impact of the water flow hitting the bank at that point.”

Mr Olsen said the riverbank residents continued to hope for proper consultation and the right solutions.

“The Waiapu can be a devastating river. You have to really respect it.”

Community group Te Riu o Waiapu will hold a meeting at Tikitiki School tomorrow to discuss the situation further.

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