Hillside on the move

17:00, Jul 30 2014
ONGOING INSTABILITY: The Hihitahi Rise footpath compresses as the result of a deep-seated landslip.

Worried residents of Hihitahi Rise, between Paihia and Opua, are watching the earth move.

It's not a new activity. They have been monitoring movement for ten years at least.

"The footpath exploded on Saturday afternoon, the second time it has happened," Leonie Brittain says.

Leonie and Jackson
STUCK: Leonie Brittain with son Jackson - ‘‘All we have ever wanted for him was a home of our own so he could have some grass and his own dog.’’

"This time it was in a different spot to last time, possibly due to movement."

She and her husband Chris Brittain have been unable to build on the section they bought nine years ago because of ground movement.

The problem has resulted in some houses being demolished. Others have been damaged.


This week the water main at the top of the road broke and water poured down the street.

"More damage is occurring and people are unaware that in some way they could be affected. It is not only our street, it is the ridge along Te Haumi Drive and also the street below us, Taumata Close," she says.

The situation is described in an engineering report as a natural disaster.

The Brittains asked if the council should have known that a major landslip was in progress when they bought their section - and that it could not be built on.

"The council has known about this for over 10 years now. Individual people will not be able to retain any slip or movement on their property as the slip is too big. The longer it is not attended to the more people it will affect.

"It will entail more payouts from the Earthquake Commission and insurance companies. If the council knew better then they should be doing better and held to account."

Mayor John Carter says he is waiting for staff to produce a report.

"It seems that it's moving again and as a result water pipes have burst. We need to have a report from staff before considering what it means and what we can do about it," he says.

Two years ago the council under mayor Wayne Brown said the 200,000 tonne landslip causing the movement could be expected to continue to move but the likely cost of remedial work was estimated to be very high.

The Far North District Council has repaired the ruptured road and cracked footpath as damage occurred but indicated two years ago that it did not guarantee stability anywhere.