Erosion puts century old pātaka storehouse at risk

Frances Ferguson / STUFF

Time is ticking to save a century old Māori storehouse from erosion at Te Rongoroa Marae.

Years of erosion is putting a marae at risk and trustees says they are being refused permission to fix the problem.

Time is ticking to save the century-old Pātaka [storehouse], which is now just metres away from falling into the Ongarue River, north of Taumarunui.

The wharekai [dining hall] on Te Rongoroa Marae is ten metres away from the eroded river bank and iwi are worried it will all slide away.

Eliza Rata from Te Rongoroa Marae is frustrated more can't be done to save their marae.
FRANCES FERGUSON/STUFF

Eliza Rata from Te Rongoroa Marae is frustrated more can't be done to save their marae.

A landslide created by the heavy rain last week has taken more land into the River.

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Te Rongoroa Marae trustee Michael Burgess said they have asked for permission to remove part of the opposite bank, to mitigate the issue, but have been refused. 

Elizs Rata said moving a century old storehouse known as a Pātaka will not solve the long term issue of saving marae ...
FRANCES FERGUSON/STUFF

Elizs Rata said moving a century old storehouse known as a Pātaka will not solve the long term issue of saving marae land from erosion.

Numerous meetings with Horizons Regional Council had also amounted to nothing. 

Iwi are now questioning if they are being unfairly discriminated against.

Burgess said the problem could have been solved 10-years-ago when the issue was minimal.

"I keep telling him to get rid of that point and the river flow will change and it will take the pressure off here."

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Burgess said the problem has gone from a $15,000 problem to one that would cost an estimated $180,00 to fix.

Advice from engineering reports have all been the same, he said. Removing a bend on the opposite side of the river would change the river flow, relieving pressure on the marae side. 

However, Horizons river management group manager, Ramon Strong, said the proposed measures would only make the problem worse.

Burgess said previous advice from Horizons senior engineering officer Jeremy Cumming, in August 2014, that the problem was a vegetation issue had done nothing to minimise erosion.

"We done everything he said and planted trees and now some of them are floating down the river.

"These river banks don't hold up long enough to settle. We've been doing this for years."

Strong said the iwi would need to pay targeted rates to qualify for the river management scheme.​

An environmental grant would cover 30 per cent of the cost.

He said building a rock revetment to protect the bank on marae land from eroding would throttle the flow of the river and more issues would come from removing the bend.

"Little has changed since 2014. Planting is an effective long-term measure however there is never a complete guaranteed that any intervention will work.

"Rivers are a natural force and ultimately have the final say."

 - Stuff

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