Climate resilience work begins at Heretaunga in Upper Hutt

  • Published Date 16 Aug 2021
  • Author Ali Kaye
  • Tags Climate change

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.

Updated October 12, 2021 at 4:31 PM

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