$1.5m seawall for Hokitika

By Laura Mills

The West Coast Regional Council has endorsed a $1.5 million seawall along the Hokitika foreshore, but is taking expert advice on whether it can really reclaim up to 20m of land already lost to the encroaching sea.
Although the final cost depends on the tender price, estimates per $100,000 of capital value range from about $13 a year for households farthest away, to $133 for those closest.
The council had intended building the rockwall about 20m out from the current shoreline, but is now concerned that would leave it too far out to sea, where it could be battered apart.
If the expert advice is that the wall should extend to, say, 10m, the money saved could be used to extend the wall further north, which is now also under threat.
In a lengthy meeting yesterday the regional council decided.—
 To go ahead with a permanent seawall located 15 to 20m out, but dependent on engineering advice on the exact distance. It will run 650m south from Stafford Street to tie in with existing rockwork, about 200m from the Tambo shipwreck memorial.
 Still considering how to extend the wall further to the north.
 Will award the tender at a special council meeting on July 24.
 The rate take will be set for this financial year, so it will come into effect shortly.
 The wall itself is being designed in-house, and will be peer reviewed by experts. Work should take three months to complete.
Council chief executive Chris Ingle said the response rate to the Hokitika residents’ survey was 42%. Of those, 33% backed the $1.5m seawall with reclaimed land, while 30% wanted the same wall but without the reclaimed land. Twenty-seven per cent chose the wall, reclaimed land and a 1m high bund on top.
Only 6% wanted to do nothing.
However, the council still has a number of issues to work through. It has to decide what to do with the existing groynes, and whether to build additional ones. Although the area around the Tambo is okay for now, it may also need rock protection work.
The council also has to watch the area north of Stafford street, with 230m between there and Hampden Street possibly in need of some sort of rockwork.
Chairman Ross Scarlett said they really needed expert advice about how far out the wall should be built. If the experts said it should be less than 20m “we could (use the savings) to extend further to the north”.
Mr Ingle said it would be “very handy” if they could stretch the wall a further 50m, after more erosion last weekend.
Cr Duncan Davidson, of Hokitika, was concerned that some people would pay for the wall, without knowing if protection would be extended closer to their homes at a later date.
“We should focus on where the problem is, rather than where it might be,” Mr Ingle said in response.
There was also talk about the current temporary, “sacrificial” rockwork under way behind the Beachfront Hotel.
Cr Davidson said he was concerned there seemed to be a lot of soil being dumped, rather than large rocks.
The council is using rubble from its Camelback Quarry, which is free, but Cr Davidson suggested the old Rimu dredge tailings might be better, noting they were much closer to Hokitika.
However, planning and environment manager Mike Meehan said the quarry rubble “binds together better than tailings”.
Mr Ingle said he was confused by Cr Davidson’s comments, as all the trucks he saw “had rocks bigger than me”.
The meeting was told it would be up to the successful tenderer to secure a rock supply for the permanent wall.