Homes at mercy of the ocean

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 22/07/2014
Mokau’s Point Rd
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ
WASHED UP: Neil Colman cleans up the remains of woolsacks used to build a sea wall to protect baches in Mokau’s Point Rd which will now be vulnerable during next month’s king tides.

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Three more of Mokau's Point Rd homes are at risk of falling into the ocean after heavy seas made a mockery of the rock wall illegally built to protect them.

Two of the houses at risk are holiday baches and one is used as a permanent residence. None of the owners could be contacted yesterday.

But Mokau resident Neil Colman said the race was now on to do something before extremely high tides hit on August 11, 12 and 13, which could completely undermine the properties.

"A four-metre tide is a really high tide here but we're getting a 3.9m and that is still very high. If that tide hits and then a storm comes, it's just going to howl in over those walls," he said.

A regular on the beach, he said the heavy seas on Sunday had also destroyed the earth ramp frequently used by whitebaiters to reach the rivermouth on their quad bikes. The only other vehicle access is 500m north and impassable at high tide.

Coastal erosion has been a problem at Mokau for decades.

Those houses that now sit on the sea shore used to have a road between them and the ocean. Older residents talk of walking through dunes to get to the beach.

Sandbags on the beach up to 15 metres away from the current wall are visible evidence of residents' failed attempts to stop the sea's advance in the past.

Illegal rock walls were first built in 2006 despite an Environment Waikato order to stop and remove the rocks. Modifications, extensions and repairs have frequently been made to the walls since then, the latest apparently just weeks ago.

Last year a bach was removed from Point Rd after the ground beneath it was washed away and during the same storm as much as five metres of land at the Mokau campgrounds was lost to the sea.

Waitomo District Council regulatory services manager John Moran said the council had long signalled to residents they were living in a hazard zone and they should prepare for a "managed retreat".

"We do not believe it is possible to engineer a solution there to stop the erosion," he said.

Some work was carried out by the council last year to protect the road and to slow erosion, and a stormwater drain was diverted.

Mokau resident Dawn Colman said the erosion was a constant topic of conversation among residents and visitors alike. "They are amazed and shocked when they come here," she said.

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