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EcoReef coasting to success

Construction of the EcoReef at Whatarangi. PHOTO/FILE

The EcoReef development at Whatarangi has successfully protected Cape Palliser Rd after a week of high swells that elsewhere devastated sections of the tarmac and reduced sections of the road to just a single lane.

The seawall on the South Wairarapa coast was installed in March as an alternative to boulders and hard walls that offered little protection against rough waves.

The structure was made of hexagonal concrete blocks filled with rocks and diffused wave energy evenly.

Fred Waiker, one of the creators of EcoReef, said the past two months had proven the wall’s ability to handle severe storms.

“Ever since we put it in, we’ve had big swells, so it’s been a very real trial period,” Waiker said.

“It’s given us a lot of good feedback, even for some of our sceptics, and there’s been a fair few of them.”

Rumours had spread that the wall had failed to survive the swells last weekend, with a piece missing and the gravel filling washed out. However, Waiker said such speculations were untrue.

“The block that was missing was a block that had been left on top, not part of the actual structure,” he said.

“The fill coming out of the blocks happened early on.

“When we built it in March, there was a storm coming, so we had to fill in some of the layers with soil rather than the intended boulders.

“The layers with the boulders all remained intact.

“The modules that were emptied out were still able to withstand the waves, so this build had given us the total confidence we needed.”

Waiker said the two months since the walls were established had probably been the most damaging to the road in the past two years.

“There were rocks the size of rugby balls hurled at the wall and quite a violent swell with a 14-second period.

“And it was able to withstand all that.”

The stretch of Cape Palliser Rd at Whatarangi with the EcoReef wall had suffered “zero damage” since the installation of the wall.

The wall had also suffered no structural damage.

The contrast to Turners Bay, just a few minutes further up the road, was stark, with an entire lane washed out and rendered unusable twice in one month.

There were plans for a second installation of the EcoReef at Turner’s Bay in the summer months.

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