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Te Mahinga Ārai Waipuke o Waipaoa

Waipaoa Flood Control

Flood control climate change resilience project

In 2020 the government declared a climate change emergency, recognising the need for us all to prepare for the impacts of a warming climate, with more erosion, more flash floods and wildfires in our region.

Climate change is the most significant long-term issue facing our region. We’re expecting sea level rise, coastal erosion and floods affecting homes and recreation.

We need flood protection to keep our people and community safe from our rivers breaking their banks in heavy rains. We also need to ensure that our important horticulture, viticulture and farming assets are protected from the effects of climate change.

Council therefore wants to accelerate the delivery of our Waipaoa Flood Control Climate Change Resilience project, giving greater protection our community needs against floods, safeguarding both economic development and wellbeing.

About the project

The project aim is to increase the level of flood protection of the Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme (WFCS) up to a 100-year return period accounting for climate change effects out to the year 2090.

The WFCS comprises approximately 64km of stopbanks along the Waipaoa River, together with other river control structures and protection works (pipes, floodgates etc), built between 1953 and 1967 to provide flood protection to the Poverty Bay floodplains and Gisborne city.

Resource consent for stopbank improvement work was granted on 26 October 2018. Stopbank construction work first started in February 2019.

The original Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme was designed in 1949 and constructed between 1953 and 1969. It's considered to be one of Council’s most valuable assets and protects some 10,000 hectares of fertile floodplain land. Construction work to improve the scheme started in February 2019 and involves upgrading approximately 64km of stopbanks along the Waipaoa River by 2030/31.

Stopbank work

As well as making the stopbanks higher, construction work will widen the stopbank profile from the current 1.5m top crest to a 4m wide top crest. Stopbank heights are being increased by about 1-2 metres in some places.

Experts have told us higher and wider stopbanks are needed to provide the full level of protection we need.

Budget and where we are

2023/24 Annual Plan budget $3,168,000.
2021-2031 Ten Year Plan budget $16,390,000.
External government funding $7,500,000.
Start date: 2015/16 Revised completion date: 2029/30 
Overall project % completed in October 2023: based on length of stopbank fully upgraded we are just over 50% through the project. Approx 34km of stopbank raising/widening has been completed to date.

Stopbank upgrade construction works well underway between Opou Road and the western side of Matawhero (SH2) Bridge. Works all occurring on the northern side of the Te Arai River between the Whatatuna Stream and SH2 Bridge near Manutuke.

Hydraulic modelling work is underway for the Waipaoa River near the Te Karaka township.

Contract award of the Kirkpatrick Road raising - contract to undertake road modifications to raise the existing road ‘low points’ located on either side of the Whakaahu up to the height of the upgraded Waipaoa stopbank. The construction work is planned to be completed between February - May 2024.

In Nov-Dec 2023

Complete earthworks to connect the existing Waipaoa stopbank on either side of the Mahunga Stream, in Ormond Township. Approx. 0.5km of stopbank upgrade work (eastern side).

Complete earthworks to connect the Mahunga Stream Floodgates with the Waipaoa stopbank, Ormond Township.

Commence stopbank upgrade works downstream of the KiwiRail Railway Bridge (western side).

WFCS Construction Overview

Planned stopbank upgrade work

In August 2020, Council was awarded $7.5m of external funding support by Kanoa to accelerate the delivery phase of the project. This external funding reduces the financial contribution that the community has to pay towards the project. Funding expires January 2024.

Date plannedStopbank location
April – June 2023Complete remaining stopbank upgrade on the eastern Side between Whitmore and Caesar Road.
April 2023Start construction upstream from Opou Road working towards Matawhero SH2 Bridge.
October 2023Complete remaining section at the Waipaoa River mouth downstream of railway bridge (western side).
October 2023Complete remaining section between Whatatuna Floodgate to Manutuke Bridge.
October 2023 – June 2024Upgrade between Matawhero (SH2) Bridge and Whakaahu Stream (western side).
October 2024 onwardsProgressively upgrade the western side stopbanks until complete – from Whakaahu Stream working upstream.
2030/31Waipaoa Flood Control Scheme fully upgraded and operational on both sides.

Total project cost estimate - $32-35 million

Completed stopbank upgrade, raised and widened (all located on eastern side)

Date completedStopbank location
February 2023Downstream from Opou Road to Whatatuna Floodgate fully upgraded - 2.2km
December 2022Between Waipaoa River mouth and Te Arai Stream (western side) except remaining 200m - 8.5km
April 2022Between Whitmore Road and Kaitaratahi Hill – 3km
March 2022Between Ford and Caesar Roads – 1km
February 2022Upstream of Matawhero SH2 bridge along eastern side to Ferry Road – 4.5km
May 2021Upstream of Matawhero SH2 bridge - 3km
March 2021Railway Bridge and Matawhero SH2 Bridge - 4km
December 2020Waipaoa River Mouth and Railway Bridge – 2km
February 2020Railway Bridge near Waipaoa river mouth – 2km
December 2019Between Bruce and Ferry roads - 2km
February 2019Between Ford and Bruce roads - 2.1km