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Farm track gets $100k

 

More than 500m of Hinakura Rd was destroyed in a slip last month. PHOTO/WSP ENGINEERING

South Wairarapa District Council has opened its purse to fund a temporary farm track to reconnect Hinakura residents to Martinborough after a landslide cut them off.

Last month, more than 500m of Hinakura Rd was destroyed by a 500,000 cubic metre landslide, affecting town access for 33 households.

Currently, alternative access to Hinakura is via Admiral Hill, which means a round-trip to Martinborough takes up to three hours.

It used to take about 20 minutes to reach Martinborough.

To reconnect residents as quickly as possible, the council will fund the creation of a 2km farm track on a private property.

Elected members agreed to grant $100,000 from the Rural Road Reserve towards this, despite landowner Don McCreary saying it would likely cost $118,000.

Councillor Pip Maynard expressed concern that should the track cost more than $100k, the Hinakura community should not be left to carry the burden of additional costs.

But after Mayor Alex Beijen said two companies had agreed to donate bulldozer time and work time for the construction, councillors were comfortable with this $100k allocation.

Depending on the weather, it was expected to take four weeks to build the track.

The council has also agreed to fund maintenance of the track until a permanent road is built.

Liability would remain with the landowner.

Some councillors shared concerns about funding a private farm track and whether it would set a precedent for others who wanted private farm tracks funded.

McCreary had previously stressed the farm track would not benefit him personally but was for the benefit of the Hinakura community.

Maynard said she understood other councillors’ concerns “about it not being on public land” – “but we have a whole community who are part of the district who are frustrated, angry, upset, and very emotional because they are disconnected from the rest of the Martinborough community”.

“I want to say thank you very much to the two private landowners who are supporting this.

“They’re being proactive to help reconnect the community. That just can’t be overstated.”

Elected members also approved the use of up to $500,000 in unbudgeted capital expenditure to allow council management to continue work on a new roading alignment and design to replace Hinakura Rd.

This would be loan-funded.

This permanent solution was expected to cost between $2 million and $5m.

Councillors have also approved up to $200k from the Rural Road Reserve to improve Admiral Rd, where residents are currently being detoured.

It would also be the route used by trucks and vehicles without 4WD capacity until a new permanent road is built.

Earlier this week, Martinborough Community Board deputy chair Aidan Ellims spoke to the council’s Assets and Services Committee to stress the importance of supporting the Hinakura community.

“Over the last few weeks, I have spoken to a number of Hinakura residents who are frustrated, angry, and have been very emotional about the situation they are in.

“The wellbeing of 70 or so residents has significantly been affected with the road slipping out and the added extra two hours it now takes to get to Martinborough, from the mothers that used to drop their children in daycare in Martinborough while they worked their businesses, the children who travel to school every day and sports teams that children and adults can no longer participate in.”

He said there had also been economic fallout for farms and businesses as a result.

He said 10 Hinakura properties, which covered 15,000 hectares of land, paid a combined $151k in rates each year and that residents deserved to be reconnected to Martinborough as quickly as possible.

Yesterday, Ellims said the farm track funding was a good result.

“It’s great they agreed to fund it, but it’s unfortunate it wasn’t to the full amount.”

Earlier this week, Martinborough Community Board Chair Mel Maynard requested the council move urgently to facilitate solutions for Hinakura. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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