News and Media

Flood resilience project provides local employment and training, Horizons

-  November 2021

The strengthening of the stopbank network at key locations in the lower Manawatū area is a key project for the Horizons Regional Council. The first stage of this project includes upgrading rock lining in Foxton to give additional protection to nearby homes and the community, as well as improving protection to an existing walkway which is a popular recreational path. To date the rock lining has been completed, with the walkway to be reinstated by the end of November.

In addition to building community resilience to severe weather events and climate change, this project has provided local employment and development opportunities.

Local contractors Alan G Gibson were awarded the contract and one of their staff, Pete Harper who was previously a truck driver and small digger operator, has had the opportunity to upskill in the more difficult area of rock placement. Pete says it’s the first job that he’s had a technical responsibility for and while it’s been challenging, it’s also been really rewarding as he’s grown in confidence. He’s also one of six staff from Alan G Gibson who will be undertaking a 4WD course organised by Horizons to better equip them for working on rural river sites in the future.


Waimakariri River - Kaiapoi Community flood protection, Environment Canterbury

-  November 2021

The Waimakariri and Kaiapoi River stopbanks protect Kaiapoi township and the surrounding area from flooding. They are part of the Waimakariri-Eyre-Cust flood protection system which is maintained by Environment Canterbury. In the 1960s, riverbank rock armour was installed to prevent erosion and stopbank breach on this very sharp bend.

Over the years the river has narrowed, and a deep scour hole has developed, increasing erosion vulnerability. This project involved rock works at McIntoshs bend, a particularly difficult part of the river due to a sharp bend where the river has narrowed over the years causing erosion.

The new rock works strengthened existing riverbank rock protection around McIntoshs bend and added new rock armouring to the adjacent stopbank.

This project is now complete, and ECan are finishing the closure report. Aerial photos and video of the completed works detail the full extent of the project. An event is currently in the planning stage to celebrate the completion of the project with attendance from partners, key stakeholders, and key media.

Since its completion, the improvements to this popular fishing spot have been well-received by regulars and newcomers alike. The upgraded amenities including enhanced parking, a picnic table and toilet facilities that have proved popular with the many walkers and runners using the area. The recently completed wetland and dryland native planting is a boost for native bird and animal habitat, enhancing the popular area for locals.


Positive social outcomes in the Hawke's Bay

-  November 2021

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council are currently working on a range of flood protection projects producing excellent social outcomes. Not only are they actively establishing iwi and community connections, but they are sharing these initiatives and the learnings with other councils for the betterment of the wider flood protection community. David Keracher, Manager Regional Projects – HBRC, talks about these projects and some of the learnings along the way.

“We’re working with a handful of different groups on smaller initiatives to try and meet our social procurement goals, and then to share the knowledge that we’ve gained with other councils who might be struggling to set this stuff up”.

HBRC are working with Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) biosecurity students putting in place a programme to enable student to shadow contractor and to be upskilled in the removal of pest plants around the river bead areas. This project will take place toward the end of this year. Film and media student are also involved in documenting and recording the development of some of these projects.

“We’re also working with a group of local contractors and while they are great at what they do, they need support with aspects of the tendering and proposal process. We’ve established training through a third party to do a tendering workshop, a bit like ‘tendering 101’. Once they’ll completed the course, they’ll be eligible for one-on-one support for completing future tenders not just for our projects but around the region”. 

“Kaitiaki Rangers are involved in two of our other projects, we’re providing them with upskilling and financial assistant to help develop their nursery so they can support us with the Herataunga Plains Flood Control Scheme Project. They been doing some great work over the past few years and have created a benchmark for capabilities for Māori in the region. They brought a lot of Māori back into the workforce including planting teams, contractors. The nursey that has been set up will assist with our projects now and into the future”.

This week works started on HBRC’s flagship stop bank strengthening project, Taradale stopbank. The project is a 2km stretch of stopbank protecting assets with a capital value of over $5 Billion including residential, commercial, infrastructure, bridges, roading. Keracher and his team recently ran a workshop for contractor, subconsultants, and designers regarding social procurement.

“We asked them what social procurement meant to them, and we came out with some fantastic opportunities. Basically everyone in the room wanted to be upskilled by the others in the room. As a result we’ve developed a partnering agreement that say that we’ll all endeavour to upskill each other under a framework of continuing professional development. If someone from a Geotech company wants to be upskilled in earthworks the earthworks contractor will provide the upskilling, but it’s up to them to manage the process. We don’t want to tell contractors what to do we want them to buy into the collaboration and manage it themselves. The onus is on them.”

HBRC will host a social procurement workshop on the 6 Dec which will include all regional council from North Island and virtually in South Island – Guest presenters include Te Wai Māori Trust, Dodge contracting who engage employees through Ministry of Social Development, Kānoa and Mates4Life. The goal will be sharing information to make the social procurement process easier for other councils.


“A FRAGILE WIN’ - A Touch and go conclusion to COP26 Glasgow

-  November 2021

The world’s ability to limit climate change to a 1.5C rise in global temperature is being questioned after the United Nation’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow failed to make the significant breakthrough many were hoping for. This result will have an impact on how regional government in New Zealand meets the threat of rising sea levels, more severe storms and other weather events.

The November conference saw climate negotiators from nearly 200 countries haggle over a fortnight to reach consensus on urgent action to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees centigrade. Efforts to move away from widespread use of coal ran into a last-minute obstacle when India, backed by China and other coal-dependent nations, rejected a clause calling for the “phase out” of coal-fired power.

Hurried negotiations saw the clause amended to asking countries to instead “phase down” coal use.

COP26 president Alok Sharma admitted the final agreement may not be enough.

“The pulse of 1.5 is weak,” Mr Sharma said in his closing remarks.

“This is a fragile win. We have kept 1.5 alive. That was our overarching objective when we set off on this journey two years ago,” he said.

“What this will be judged on, is not just the fact that countries have signed up, but on whether they meet and deliver on the commitments.

“The hard work starts now.”

Glasgow was the 26th such international meeting to address climate change, giving the meeting its name – Conference of Parties 26.

Delegates were bluntly told by small maritime nations that curbing global temperatures was now urgent if they were to avoid being submerged by rising sea levels. At the start of the conference, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley said for his country and other small island states, ‘two degrees is a death sentence’.

New Zealand’s delegation was led by Climate Change Minister James Shaw who used his conference speech to reinforce Prime Minister Mottley’s message.

“Aotearoa New Zealand’s closest neighbours are among those first and worst hit by the climate crisis, but who have contributed the least to global emissions,” Mr Shaw said.

“To illustrate what this means, last year our government was asked to assist a Pacific nation with the massive task of moving 42 villages inland, away from the rising waves. 

“For some this isn’t even an option. Villages in low-lying countries like Tuvalu, Tokelau and Kiribati have nowhere inland to go.

“New Zealand will continue to lead by example here, and show the world what meaningful, ambitious and lasting climate action looks like,” James Shaw said. 

The outcome of COP26 and James Shaw’s pledge have implications for New Zealand local government already struggling to cope with increasingly severe weather events and rising sea levels. Before the conference, the Ardern Government began public consultation on what to include in New Zealand’s first ever Emissions Reduction Plan. It released a discussion document Te hau mārohi ki anamata - Transitioning to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future, with consultation ending on 24 November.

The document points to work already underway between Kānoa – RDU and local government as an example of how to tackle climate change. It suggests building on programmes such as the Kānoa Regional Economic Development Partnerships and investigating the Regional Strategic Partnerships Fund’s potential to accelerate “equitable regional transitions.”

It also suggests deploying more intensive support to help those transitions in communities and regions needing more assistance, as well as a new Climate Adaptation Act to address managed retreat. The Climate Resilience Advisory Board is already working with local government on protecting regional communities, using $211 million to fund 55 separate river protection and flood resilience projects across 14 regions.


Erosion Protection - Te Awa Kairangi/Hutt River, Greater Wellington Regional Council

-  November 2021

Earlier this year, heavy rainfall events eroded considerable sections of the Hutt River Trail. This project aims to protect the community from the challenges posed by climate change, namely increased rainfall and flooding events, protecting homes and individuals that live on this flood plain now and into the future.

Greater Wellington Councillor Ros Connelly is excited about the future of this project.  

“We are doing works on 15 sites along Te Awa Kairangi (Hutt River) and Ruamāhanga River, working with 30 individual businesses. We're not just building infrastructure, we're building people, businesses, and jobs", Connelly says.

The greater programme includes the planting of 60,000 trees, approximately half of which will come from the local Rimutaka Prison nursery.

Contractor Paul Albert of Mills Albert says that for works at the Royal Wellington Golf Club site, there were two phases to the project: physical works which included over 5,500 tonnes of rock, and a social procurement project.

“We’ve been fortunate to have the ability to work with local iwi and have hired a civil engineer from Ngāti Toa to work on this project. For Mills Albert, a Māori owned business, the ability to engage with local iwi has strong connections with our company and we're currently doing this in other parts of the country - we feel it has huge importance, because this is their area as well.”

The Royal Wellington Golf Club site is due for completion in January 2022, with the remaining project sites finishing by June 2022.


Robson Lagoon project, Otago Regional Council

-  September 2021

Robson Lagoon is located in the Clutha-Mata-Au catchment, approximately 7km east/northeast of Balclutha, Otago and is part of the regionally significant Lake Tuakitoto Wetland complex. This project will upgrade flow control structures for the lagoon and assist with flood management around the lagoon area, whilst protecting its natural and cultural values. The upgraded flow management structures will improve flow during flood events and provide a more sustainable habitat for local wildlife, such as native fish.

The Lake Tuakitoto Wetland complex is a part of catchment serviced by the Lower Clutha Flood Protection and Drainage Scheme.

The structures which form part of the Lower Clutha flood protection and drainage scheme in the vicinity of Robson Lagoon assist with the drainage of the land adjacent to the northern end of the Lake Tuakitoto Wetland. The project will improve the operation of these structures to better allow drainage without affecting the wetland’s ecosystem, and preserving recreation use and cultural values of the wetland.

Consultation with Aukaha Limited as representatives for mana whenua for the area was undertaken in conjunction with the consultation with other key stakeholders (Department of Conservation and Otago Fish and Game).

A meeting was held in April 2018 to refine details and work through a set of conditions to ensure that all stakeholders could be confident that the impacts of the works could be avoided, remedied or mitigated.  This led to an iterative process, and within 6 months of this meeting all parties were able to agree a set of conditions that appropriately managed potential impacts, largely relating to gathering and providing monitoring data as required.  This set of conditions was then offered to the consent authority in conjunction with the written approvals of these agencies.

The project is planned for completion in Autumn 2023. Work within the wetland is restricted to an eight-week window in January and February of each year.


Climate resilience work begins at Heretaunga in Upper Hutt

-  September 2021

Work has begun on stabilising the banks of Te Awa Kairangi/Hutt River at Heretaunga near the Royal Wellington Golf Club in Upper Hutt, alongside the popular Hutt River Trail.

“Erosion from severe weather in July has undermined the riverbanks and adjacent trail, taking out up to 20 metres of the bank and severely damaging the trail making it dangerous to use near the club.

“We’ve cordoned the area off to ensure public safety and we ask people to keep out of the area, which is now a construction site,” says Greater Wellington Manager, Flood Protection, Graeme Campbell.

“We will reopen the trail near the club once construction is completed and the area is safe which, it is estimated, will take three months subject to the weather and availability of materials.”

The work is being co-funded by Greater Wellington and the Government’s Kānoa Resilient River Communities Programme, which arose from the Government’s post-Covid infrastructure funding package, and is administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. 

It is a major project, involving the construction of a protective rock wall and rock groynes to defend the river bank from further erosion. It will require rebuilding 100m of bank edge and the installation of around 5000 tonnes of protective rock.

“The recent flood is a harbinger of the intensity and frequency of climate change-induced weather events that will continue to place increasing stress on existing flood protection structures and on emerging areas of vulnerability,” says Mr Campbell.

“The river at Heretaunga emphatically shows the impact of volatile weather, and the importance of undertaking resilient river community projects which are increasingly vital to our regions,” says Greater Wellington Te Awa Kairangi ki uta/Upper Hutt councillor and Climate Committee deputy chair Ros Connelly.

“We had planned this work for later in the year, along with bank strengthening works at several other locations along the river. But I’m really glad we were able to bring it forward given the damage sustained to the riverbanks and the trail, which is much used by the community.

“The stark recent warning from the International Committee on Climate Change on the pace of growing risks we face underscores the urgency of preparing for more frequent floods.

“It also shows the positive and growing influence of government direction on Te Mana o te Wai, under which our first priority is the health and well-being of the river and its waters. Our approach to incorporating it in this project is to widen the river channel to better enable the natural flow of the river.

“Once the project is completed the outcome will be protection against further erosion from extreme weather and the reinstatement of the Hutt River Trail,” says Cr. Connelly.


Bay of Plenty Regional Council, good progress on Rangitāiki floodwall resilience project

- September 2021

The Council received money from Central Government’s Crown Infrastructure Funding project to help cover the cost of replacing three concrete floodwalls on the Rangitāiki River.

The new earth stopbanks with a sheet-pile centres are designed to control seepage which can undermine and collapse the stopbank and put people and properties at risk.

The upgrade of the Greig Road stopbank has been completed and you can watch an update on the progress they’ve made on the site on East Bank Road near Thornton School here -  Floodwalls on the lower Rangitāiki River - YouTube

Conversations with affected landowners are continuing at the remaining College Road site with work expected to begin in the new year and take 6 months to complete.

Work on the Rangitāiki Floodwalls project began in October 2020 and employs 26 people.

The funding covers $2.25 million of the $5.0 million project.