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A Christmas miracle

Christmas camping at Te Awaiti. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Popular campsites to remain open
Te Awaiti and North Tora sites ready for campers

In a dramatic turnaround, South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] says two popular campsites threatened with closure will remain open indefinitely.

SWDC said on Tuesday that Te Awaiti and North Tora campsites on Wairarapa’s south coast would continue to be open subject to enhanced safety monitoring for severe weather situations.

SWDC chief executive Harry Wilson had previously said the two campsites would close, citing danger to life in the event of severe flooding. Both sites had been flagged by Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] as high risk in a one in a hundred-year flood.

Wilson then temporarily reopened them before Labour Day while a safe solution was explored.

SWDC developed a monitoring plan in collaboration with the Martinborough Community Board [MCB]. The council also worked with GWRC and Fire and Emergency New Zealand [FENZ].

The risk mitigation plan would keep people safe and allow the public to keep using the campsites.

Elements of the plan included putting large warning signs up at the entry to both sites before Christmas.

MetService was expected to send weather alerts for more than 150mm rain directly to FENZ, SWDC, and MCB.

In the event of a severe weather warning, SWDC planned to send an officer to warn campers. In addition, SWDC would publish alerts for campers on their Facebook page and other social media accounts. If SWDC officers could not safely access the campsites, the Tora FENZ brigade would help to ensure safety.

MCB chairwoman Mel Maynard was relieved that a solution had been reached.

“Martinborough Community Board has been grateful for the opportunity to create a successful outcome using our board’s local knowledge to assist council. I hope to continue this constructive working partnership with our council on all matters which affect our community,” she said.

Martinborough resident Trinity Shaw had arranged a petition opposing the closures which was signed by more than 1500 people. She had camped at the two sites for 40 years and said they should never have closed.

“I think it’s great they are open. I’ll definitely be going there over the summer. My dad and aunty will be there over the holidays. A huge thank you to MCB for persevering and ensuring SWDC did their job.

“If SWDC had done all the work from the start, this would never have happened.

“It’s been a huge waste of time,” she said.

“I can’t believe someone can come into a meeting and flippantly say ‘I’m closing the campsites’.”

SWDC group manager partnership and operations Stefan Corbett, who had managed the issue for the council, said it was a good outcome.

“Thank you to the Martinborough Community Board and members of the community for their insights and feedback. We are very pleased to have reached an outcome that keeps people safe and the campsites open,” he said.

“This means local families and visitors to the region can continue to enjoy these beautiful sites, including during the forthcoming Christmas and New Year break.”

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