Sunday, July 14, 2024
7.8 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

Campsites facing sudden shutdown


Two South Wairarapa District Council campsites on the south coast could close soon after advice about damaging flooding in a severe weather event.

Council chief executive Harry Wilson said at a council meeting he was considering closing the Te Awaiti campsite. At last week’s Maori Standing Committee he added a Tora campsite to the list.

“My responsibility under workplace safety and health is to make a call if I perceive there is a significant public risk,” Wilson said at the committee meeting.

“It’s a hard decision. You feel like the grinch that’s stolen Christmas,” he said.

He expected to decide after the next Martinborough Community Board meeting today.

The board issued a statement saying they had heard from many residents and users of the Te Awaiti and Tora North/Awhea campgrounds concerned about the possible closures.

“We’re waiting to hear from the chief executive and keen to see the information that he has used to make this decision. We will be discussing this at our next MCB meeting tomorrow,” the board said.

Wilson said he had previous experience in flood management. He described a visit to the Tora area when he stopped to look at Te Awaiti campground.

“I looked at this campground, and I thought that this is a disaster waiting to happen,” he said.

“It is a long river system, it has a bridge which is a chokepoint, and it has a sandbar.”

Wilson said the regional council had sent flood risk maps, which showed that the campground would be inundated in a one-in-100-year event.

“That is a probability of a high flood risk,” he said.

The regional council had updated their maps based on more severe weather expected due to climate change, meaning more inundation was anticipated in a short space of time. This meant the two campgrounds would be unsafe in a severe flood.

Wilson said flood warning systems could be put in place to mitigate the risk, but the remote location was high risk.

“We are doing work to explore alternative locations on higher ground if we have land available,” he said.

Wilson said there was a risk of people drowning, but he understood people had been camping in the area for many years. Some residents had said they had to rescue people in the past.

A council spokesperson clarified the situation after the meeting.

“After the first campsite, Te Awaiti, was identified as a potential risk by Greater Wellington Regional Council, the council looked at North Tora as an alternative camping site. At this point, it was revealed that it faced equal flooding risk. So Te Awaiti and North Tora campsites are both at great risk from flash floods inundating the area within a short space of time,” they said.

The spokesperson said the decision was within the chief executive’s mandated authority and did not need public consultation.

The campsites were not expected to close for day trips, but overnight stays could be banned.

The spokesperson said Wilson would discuss the issue with the Martinborough Community Board today and hoped to decide after that.

“GWRC has not complete detailed flood assessments. The data they currently have is insufficient to be able to do that,” the spokesperson said, adding answers to frequently asked questions would be posted on the council website soon.

“This decision will be made following the discussion with Martinborough Community Board and feedback on whether warning systems can be put in place to mitigate this risk,” they said.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
broken clouds
7.8 ° C
7.8 °
7.8 °
98 %
76 %
9 °
10 °
12 °
13 °
14 °