Gisborne banner image

Long road ahead

Wednesday 6 April, 2022

Council assures the community there is a plan in place to ensure Tairāwhiti bounces back from the latest severe weather event.

Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says the recovery is particularly tough on some communities who had only just completed work on their properties after the previous event in November.

“It’s still early days and the recovery is going to take a long time,” she says, “but we have a solid prioritisation process in place and the assessments and work around that are already underway.”

There are 1514 known faults across the roading network, ranging from slips of various sizes to dropouts, blocked or damaged culverts, silt-laden drainage channels, fallen trees, and debris around bridges across 128 local roads – not including any on the state highways.

The region moved out of its state of emergency on Friday, the 10th day of the event signalling a move from response to recovery.

“The widespread extent of the damage to the region makes it a challenging event to have to clean up. It has had a massive effect on critical infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, and properties.

“It’s probably going to take between 18 and 24 months,” she says, “and cost millions.

“What’s needed are engineering solutions and to secure external funding because we want all our emergency works funded.

“Council will be lobbying Government and Waka Kotahi for 100 per cent financial support for the emergency repairs.”

One of the most critical points of damage was the loss of the Maungahauini Bridge at Tokomaru Bay, which cut off much of the Coast. A temporary fix is already in place with a more permanent one to follow. But there were other crucial links cut off due to slips that just kept on coming when the rain didn’t stop. A huge boulder came down on Tiniroto Road, with everyone just thankful no one had been driving by at the time.

Ms Thatcher Swann paid tribute to the immense work done by contracting crews across the district during the weather event and following it. “They were out in some awful conditions, clearing roads and fixing things where they could so our region stayed as connected as possible,” she says.

Structural inspections still need to be done on 200 bridges and large culverts which are set to start shortly. Some of the small rural, dead-end roads remain impassable but farmers have done clearing where they could, to allow four-by-four access.

“It will take a big effort to get everything fixed. It’s critical to ensure we are able to restore access first temporarily and then with more permanent solutions.”

ROAD TO RECOVERY: Council has been using a drone to map out landslides across the district. The drone is set up to take a panorama picture at the end of its flight. This one is a view of the city above Hill Road by Dr Murry Cave on Sunday 3 April, 2022.

Picture by Dr Murry Cave