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HB Coastal Hazards – outlook for change

Hawke’s Bay’s hot, hazy Tuesday outside was a stark contrast to the crisp air conditioned room at Ahuriri's East Pier where appointed members of two Coastal Hazard Assessment Panels – on behalf of communities from Clifton to Tangoio – met to launch the next phase of the region’s coastal hazards project.

Equally, calm seas outside bore no resemblance to the topics of coastal storms, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and threats from tsunami. These are the reasons why this work is so important. 

Opened by Des Ratima on behalf of the Tangata Whenua groups involved in this project, Mayors Lawrence Yule and Bill Dalton joined Chair Rex Graham and 80 other invited community members looking for long-term local solutions to the challenges posed by climate change. These solutions will likely include a mix of coastal retreat measures, coastal defence or simply letting nature take its course. 

Coastal Hazards Joint Committee Chair Peter Beaven said, "Today's best guess is a 1.5 metre sea level rise over the next hundred years."

"Whatever measures we implement, we need to tackle this problem to reduce the angst for our coastal settlements and give certainty to our wider community,” added Mr Beaven.

There is no quick road to one or a range of solutions.

Two panels with members representing communities along the coast, local businesses, those with mana whenua over the coast, recreational interests and the wider community will develop options for consideration by the Clifton to Tangoio Joint Committee and participating Councils.  One panel will focus on options for the coast between Clifton and the Port, and the other between the Port and Tangoio.   Each of the two panels will work to develop recommendations to help the most at-risk communities plan how best to adapt to a coastline that is gradually changing shape.

During 2017, the panels will learn about specific coastal hazard risks, develop options or ways to respond to those risks over 100 years, and make recommendations on applying these. 

The Ministry for the Environment's Coastal Hazards Guidance document, due this month, will include international best practice and is expected to inform assessment panel recommendations.

The project is formally known as the Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazard Strategy 2120. 'Northern' panel members represent Tangoio, Whirinaki, Bay View, Westshore and Ahuriri. 'Southern' panel members represent Marine Parade, Clive, East Clive, Haumoana, Te Awanga and Clifton. More information is at hbcoast.co.nz.

1 February 2017

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