Waitomo District Council is spending up to $80,000 repairing a road on Mokau's erosion-prone spit so baches at risk of falling into the sea can be removed before they are washed away.
Extremely high tides and heavy seas lately have accelerated erosion of the spit, sweeping away the Point Rd beach access ramp and undermining two bach properties.
Erosion in the area has been a problem for decades and some baches have already been removed after the sea undermined their foundations.
The council has long maintained that the erosion cannot be stopped and it has refused to do any sea-wall protection work, but many residents with seaside properties have illegally constructed rock walls.
These walls have generally failed to protect the properties and have been washed away.
In a newsletter to Mokau residents dated August 22 Waitomo Mayor Brian Hanna explained the road-end work as being carried out on an emergency basis and was consistent with the council's position on the erosion.
"The magnitude of the physical erosion process and its associated effect on private residential property is not something that Waitomo District Council can fix or even afford to fund," he said.
"Council's consistent position throughout the process to date has been to work for and promote a ‘managed retreat' approach for the owners of the ‘at risk' properties.
"It is important that council, in support of that outcome, takes all reasonable steps to keep the legal roadway available and useable over the immediate future so that a managed relocation or removal of property can occur over time."
The mayor said the council would contribute between $60,000 and $80,000 to the project, which would be funded from its existing budget.
Hanna said they would be working closely with the Waikato Regional Council, NZ Transport Agency, affected landowners and the Mokau Ki Runga Regional Management Committee.
Earlier this month the owners of the two properties nearest to the road end carried out emergency extensions to their rock walls in expectation of the high tides.
Despite the work, the land on both properties has slumped though. The baches themselves are not in immediate danger.
Erosion is not just a problem at Mokau township. In June last year campers at Mokau's Seaview Holiday Park were forced to scramble to secure their possessions as violent seas gouged away the land around their caravans in the dead of night.
By noon the next day as much as five metres of land had been washed away at some parts of the campground.
- Taranaki Daily News
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