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our place Huia sea wall options

Orange is the new black in Huia, as the broken seawall remains guarded by fluorescent orange barriers. Plans for its repair or removal will be finalised in the first half of 2015. Over summer, the Waitakere Ranges Local Board will be consulting with locals on two options. The first is to repair and reinforce the existing seawall and construct a rock retaining wall along the unprotected shoreline to absorb the incoming energy from the high tides. The second is to remove the seawall through what’s being called “managed retreat”. The erosion is accelerating and Deputy Chair Denise Yates says this second option, proposed by coastal specialists Tonkin & Taylor, would see the affected area being allowed to gradually return to a natural shape, a solution used successfully at Muriwai.

“When we commissioned a specialist report, the research uncovered old structures that clearly showed the bay in previous times had quite a different shape at its westward edge,” she says. “When this current sea wall was constructed it took a battering because the design wasn’t quite right.”

Local resident Peter Riem is more blunt. “The new wall’s been built on sand, that’s why it’s failed,” he says. “I’ve been climbing on that sea wall since I was four. The old one was built on bedrock, on greywacke. This one isn’t.” The old sea wall was constructed where a road used to run directly along the sea front, before the Domain became public land. “On the seaward side of the toilets you can see the old road in

striations where the metal was compacted into the dirt,” says Peter. “They built it where the land was more solid.”

There has been significant land erosion at this westward end where

the wall is damaged. The second option would likely mean further loss of some recreational land on the Domain and removal of the toilet block. New toilets would need to be constructed.

Peter says any solution needs to take account of the shift in prevailing wind direction, to the south-west, and that construction of the lower Huia Dam has affected river outflow.

“Climactic conditions are changing,” he says. “The wind is hammering into the bay, where it used to be sheltered. You can’t return something to a state that no longer exists.” Stakeholders in the project have already been emailed more details of the two options. A public meeting will be held at the Huia Hall during December for residents to have their say. The consultation closes in January and physical works are planned to start in July 2015. The project is managed by the council’s Local & Sports Park West team. To find details on the meeting date and proposals, check out the

notice board at the Huia Store or call the Local Board office on 813 9150. – Jade Reidy

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