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Celebration marks road’s reopening

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] has celebrated the reopening of Hinekura Rd with residents.

The event, which followed the road reopening after many months, was held at Hinakura Hall last week and was attended by SWDC representatives and residents, with an informal ceremony followed by a barbecue hosted by the East Coast Rural Support Trust.

SWDC councillor for Martinborough ward, Aidan Ellims, who had actively advocated for the fix as a councillor and before that as a member of the Martinborough Community Board [MCB], spoke at the event.

He referenced the history of the slow slip on Hinekura Rd near the Hikawera turn-off since 2020, and its impact on valley residents, who were adversely affected over a long period.

“Some elected members and staff will not be aware that back in 2020 Hinekura residents first starting raising concerns about the state of the road with the MCB,” he said.

In June 2021 the road slipped and was closed but was subsequently repaired. It slipped again and was fixed at the end of 2021, but in mid-2022 a large portion collapsed completely and could not be repaired.

“I want to acknowledge the impact that the closure of the Hinekura Rd has had on you and your community,” Ellims said.

“It has impacted your daily lives, it has impacted getting your children to school. The photo that sticks in my mind is of mothers and their children climbing over the slip, holding onto the fence line to get to the school bus that was on the Martinborough side of the slip.

“This resulted in houses being rented in town for a three month period so that children could attend school during the week and return home to the farm each weekend to be a family. It has impacted you getting to Martinborough for sports, social events, and even the basics like getting your mail, your groceries, your vet and farm supplies.

“It has impacted your farming businesses, getting trucks in to sell and shift stock off-farm, getting the fuel tankers in to supply fuel for quads, utes, tractors, bulldozers, and fishing boats. It has impacted your other businesses.”

Ellims acknowledged the difficulty of emergency services getting to the community, with a homestead and other buildings destroyed by fire during the period.

He thanked those involved in the rebuild, a local farmer who helped with access over an alternative track, and East Coast Rural Support for the assistance they provided the community during this time. He also thanked the contractors who worked on the repairs.

“In the time I have been on MCB and council, I have not seen contractors put the hours in on projects as your team has. Great work, guys,” he said.

Ellims hoped peoples’ lives can now get back to normal.

“I’m sure this is a massive relief to you all, as it is for us at council to know that you have a functioning road again.”

SWDC Acting Mayor Melissa Sadler-Futter attended the event with councillors Ellims, McAulay, Maynard, and Olds, and chief executive Janice Smith.

SWDC worked on the rebuild with NZTA Waka Kotahi, which provided geotechnical advice and funded more than 70 per cent of the cost.

Hinekura Rd reopened in late March. Repairs are ongoing but the road can now be used by all vehicles.

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