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Resilient River Communities

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has secured $19.2 million of Government funding through Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (Kānoa - RDU) to protect and mitigate the effects of climate change, which will support four Resilient River Communities projects and up to 63 jobs for the region.

About the projects

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council secured $19.2 million through Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (Kānoa - RDU) for the Resilient River Communities (RRC) Programme, to protect and mitigate the effects of climate change, which will support four projects across the region. The funding came from the Government's COVID-19 Recovery and Response Fund to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

We are working together with central government, iwi, communities and local businesses to build resilience in our river communities. All four of these flood protection projects are possible through collaborative funding.

Flood frequency and magnitude are increasing due to climate change and ongoing work and increasing levels of investment are required for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and councils around New Zealand to respond to the impacts of climate change.

The timeframe for the RRC Programme is scheduled over the next few years as a part of HBRC’s Long Term Plan (2018-2028). Kānoa - RDU funding  funding contribution is targeted for completion by November 2023.

Overview video

Current projects

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The low-lying historic river plains of the Tūtaekurī, Ngaruroro, Clive and Lower Tukituki Rivers is where The Heretaunga Plains Flood Control Scheme (HPFCS) provides protection from flooding to most of Hastings, Flaxmere, Havelock North and Napier urban areas. This covers approximately 39,000 hectares with a population of approximately 138,000 people living within the scheme boundary, which is about 82% of the Hawke’s Bay population.

This project aims to increase climate resilience of HPFCS by raising the level of protection (Level of Service or LoS) against flooding of rivers from a current 1% (1 in 100 year flood event) Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) to a 0.2% (1 in 500 year flood event) AEP and frequent smaller events.

Key sites across the HPFCS have been identified for a 1 in 500 year flood event and based on this assessment, physical works will include one or a combination of erosion protection measures such as widening or raising stop banks, introducing groynes, sheet piling, riprap protection, strategic planting, etc.

In addition to erosion protection works, areas are being identified for ecological enhancement that will support and protect indigenous biodiversity and contribute to climate change resilience across the Heretaunga Plains.

An important component to HBRC’s funding agreement with Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (Kānoa - RDU) is that we emphasise supplier diversity and engage with locally owned businesses. HBRC are working with a variety of local design consultants and are also in talks with local, Māori and Pasifika owned businesses to deliver construction, design, and planting packages.

Build up of gravel (aggradation) in rivers within the Upper Tukituki has been an issue for more than a decade. The higher elevation of the riverbeds has compromised the level of service within the scheme.

Hawkes Bay Regional Council developed a strategy for gravel management in the Upper Tukituki (UTT) with funding from the Governments COVID-19 Recovery and Response Fund. This reduces costs associated with extracting gravels from five rivers in the Upper Tukituki Scheme (Upper Tukituki, Waipawa, Magaonuku, Tukipo and Makaretu), making it comparable to the cost of extracting elsewhere within Hawke’s Bay.

The overall project value is $8 million with $5,120,000 grant from Kānoa - RDU, and $2,880,000 loan funded through UTT scheme rates, following consultation with the UTT Scheme ratepayers during the 2021-31 Long Term Plan (LTP).

Extracting gravels from rivers within Hawke’s Bay has been an effective way to increase river capacity and reducing risk of water inundation of neighbouring properties during flood events. The gravels are typically used for industrial purposes, both processed and unprocessed pending on the characteristics of the gravel and the desired use.

The limited funding generated by the UTT scheme and distance to civil and infrastructure projects within the Hawke’s Bay Region has hindered any significant gravel extraction. Reduction in gravel levies has been used to incentivise extraction within the scheme, however this has had limited success.

Without gravel extraction, aggradation will continue and reduce the Level of Service of the UTT rivers. The overall desired outcome of the project is to provide a 1 in 100 year flood protection to the UTT scheme.

To date, survey has been undertaken to determine volume of available gravel, material testing of gravels to confirm engineering properties and prioritisation of cross sections/reaches.

The Regional Council have undertaken a Registration of Interest (ROI) through Government Electronic Tendering System (GETS) to prequalify potential tenderers to undertake gravel extraction activities. Successful tenderers will be allocated cross sections/reaches to bid upon. The Regional Council shall also identify possible capital projects through Local Authorities, NZTA or other stakeholders to maximise the volume of material to be extracted.

Completed projects

State Highway 50 Waipawa River was the first Resilient River Communities project to be completed. The COVID-19 Recovery and Response Fund committed 64% of project costs, 30% co-funded from Waka Kotahi and the remaining 6% co-funded through the Regional Council.

Erosion along the Waipawa riverbank upstream of State Highway 50 has been gradually deteriorating over the last 10 years. Previously the Regional Council had managed this erosion with small scale engineering works and planting but with limited success. The aim of this project was to minimise the risk of erosion through a combination of engineered design and re-direction of the river to deter the water from the banks.

The design solution incorporates a balance of river ‘calming’ methods and channel realignment to deter the water away from the banks. The works include a combination of large-scale earthworks to realign the meandering braid, allowing for greater capacity by deepening and widening the bed, and armouring of the riverbanks.

We used akmons (large precast concrete blocks linked with steel cables) which were partially buried and positioned on the left bank, upstream of the bridge to deflect the flow of water back into the design channel. In addition, a lattice of steel rail irons woven together by steel cable formed groynes on left and right banks to capture debris and build up transported gravels minimising the risk of erosion to the banks. Planting of willows and indigenous trees give the groynes and embankment stability through their deep root structures.

We collaborated with Te Wai Mauri Kaitiaki Rangers to assist with strategic planting on the awa. The Kaitiaki Rangers, all employed through local hapū Ngāti Parau, are based out of Waiohiki Marae with a focus on riparian planting and environmental restoration. During this project, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council invested in upskilling and training with the Kaitiaki Rangers to plant willow poles, slot trees and plant native species at the Waipawa River SH50 site. In total, over 4,700 willows and 1,000 native plants were established on the banks of the river.

As part of the works, HBRC engaged an ecologist to undertake an assessment before, during and after the completion of the project to understand and improve environmental outcomes. This stretch of river is ecologically sensitive as it has one of the most densely populated areas of banded dotterels in Hawke’s Bay. After the works were completed, we confirmed an increase in banded dotterel breeding areas.

The project was completed in August 2021.

The Taradale stopbank upgrade project was completed to a 1-in-500-year flood level and a native planting programme will finish this project for the community in June 2023.

Construction took 12 months to complete and while we had up to 80 rain days, we managed to finish the stopbank and grass seed in time for summer. 

This stopbank cost $4m, has proved a vital asset and protected the community during Cyclone Gabrielle. We are currently working on post-cyclone stopbank rebuilds and erosion along the Tūtaekurī and Ngaruroro.

Upgrades to The Heretaunga Plains Flood Control Scheme (HPFCS) will be needed to provide flood protection to a population of approximately 138,000 people who live within the scheme boundary, which is about 82% of the Hawke’s Bay population over almost 39,000 hectares.

The project was completed in September 2022.


As part of the Resilient River Communities Programe, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council was able to fast-track scour protection work on the Wairoa River on the corner of River Parade Road and Carroll Street. 64% of project costs were funded by the Government's COVID-19 Recovery and Response Fund, 18% co-funded from Wairoa District Council (WDC) and the remaining 18% through HBRC.

This project has provided stability to the north embankment and anchored steel sheet piles have been installed to protect approximately 73 meters along the bank. Investigations showed significant scouring on the left bank of the Wairoa river at the intersection of River Parade Road and Carroll Street, along with other associated Wairoa District Council (WDC) assets prone to further scour risk. As part of the enabling works, the Regional Council worked closely with WDC to relocate watermains along River Parade to facilitate the sheetpile wall.

Throughout, the Regional Council have engaged with local businesses; Lattey’s Group during preliminary stages of design, Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust, Wairoa Reserves Board – Matangirau (WRB) and Wairoa District Council to identify the aspirations and cultural values of the region as well as an assessment of environmental impacts on the fish, birds and plants of the river and surrounding area.

We have worked alongside Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust, WRB and WDC to help engage local businesses and employ people from the region. Trees and bush planting upstream provide stability to the rivers edge and build up the biodiversity of the river. This allows safe access for the public to the river’s edge and popular whitebating (inanga) area.

The project was completed in June 2022.

This video discusses some of the key project challenges, engineering solutions, biodiversity benefits and how we are supporting a resilient Central Hawke’s Bay.


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