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Hinakura relief fund

A $20,000 relief fund is on the way for more than 20 South Wairarapa families stranded by a landslide.

But Hinakura Rd residents say a usable road is the only thing that will solve their issues in the long term.

The South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] announced details of the fund yesterday for Hinakura Valley residents impacted by a slip that destroyed the road last week.

“South Wairarapa District Council is sympathetic and concerned for the welfare of residents and is working at speed with other parties to provide the necessary support Hinakura Rd residents need at this time,” the council said in a statement.

It was not the first time slips had impacted the road.

In response to an official information request, SWDC said a roading engineer estimated costs of about $266,554 to mitigate slips in the past 12 months.

Residents who lived beyond the most recent slip faced journeys of up to 90 minutes to reach the nearest town, Martinborough. The trip usually took 20 minutes.

Some families were staying with relatives or friends in Martinborough to save their children a long journey to school each morning.

In addition to the relief fund, SWDC was investigating alternative routes for Hinakura Rd users other than Admiral Rd, which took residents on a long and “less attractive” detour north through Carterton District.

The council expected an update from engineers early next week, including new road alignment options.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency would be onsite next week to examine the damage as part of the council’s preliminary application for emergency funding to provide sustainable access for Hinakura Rd users.

In the meantime, maintenance would continue on the route via Admiral Rd, which had more traffic due to the slip.

Hinakura Rd is now completely closed to all traffic.
Hinakura Rd is now completely closed to all traffic. SWDC could not provide a timeframe for reopening.

SWDC’s $20,000 relief fund aimed to “ease the immediate burden” on residents.

Rural Support Trust, which had assisted farmers in the aftermath of February’s major flooding event, would administer the fund.

Wairarapa area coordinator Sarah Donaldson said the trust had been busy mapping the impacts of the slip.

“A lot of the wider community have no idea how big this is for this little community,” she said.

“There have been two years of slips, but in the past, they’ve been able to temporarily repair it after a few days or weeks.

“This is a landslide – it’s not repairable.”

Donaldson said the slip had affected farms, incomes, families, education, and health.

“Families have had to base themselves in Martinborough in order to work and get their kids to school because it’s just not viable to have a three-hour round trip from Hinakura to Martinborough every day.

“There are all sorts of ripples and ramifications for this community, so we’re looking to provide more wrap-around support for them in the interim before they have another road.”

Rural Support Trust had provided information to SWDC, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and the Ministry of Primary Industries and was currently consulting with the Hinakura community on the best usage of the council’s fund.

One possibility looked to upgrade Hinakura Hall into an educational hub in the event that students could not reach their regular school.

“The biggest thing for this community is feeling like things are going to happen, and it’s going to get sorted properly,” Donaldson said.

Before the slip, Hinakura resident Jason Reedy regularly travelled into Martinborough.

Looking east across the destruction of the now impassable Hinakura Rd.
Looking east across the destruction of the now impassable Hinakura Rd.

“Now that the road’s an extra hour journey, it’s not worth going anywhere,” he said.

Reedy said the isolation of Hinakura residents had taken its toll on their mental health.

“Stuck in the middle of nowhere, people go crazy.”

Clayton Hartnell ran a homestay that had ceased operation since the slip, with visitors unable to reach it.

Meanwhile, his wife had stayed in Martinborough to be closer to the school where she taught.

He said the council funding could be used for

alternative schooling options or to cover travel and accommodation costs.

However, he said the only viable long-term solution was a new road.

“There’s pretty much only one option. They’ll have to purchase land and put the road in a different place.”

Another resident, who the Times-Age agreed not to name, said his business was down about 30 per cent since the slip.

“You do it subconsciously. You don’t buy in lambs, or you don’t do this and that because you need to make things easier or less risky.”

He said the access issue also meant he would struggle to fill vacancies on his farm.

“Why would they want to work out here?”

  • A meeting for Hinakura residents would take place in the Martinborough Supper Room at 6.30pm on Wednesday. Residents could also join the meeting via Zoom.

 

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