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‘More a track than a road’

Residents say damage to Mataikona Rd has accelerated in recent years. PHOTOS/GEORGE SHIERS

Residents living on a notorious stretch of Wairarapa’s east coast say a fix to the road can’t come soon enough.

Masterton District Council [MDC] held a successful meeting with about 60 residents of Mataikona Rd on Saturday.

Residents were given a chance to air concerns and heard several solutions to mitigate the damage to the road, which was partially sealed, and riddled with potholes.

If left unchecked, three coastal settlements could be cut off as the effects of climate change worsen and the shoreline advances.

Residents had until September 22 to present their feedback from Saturday’s meeting, which MDC would consider along with a report by engineering firm Stantec.

A subsequent business case for options to address the problem would be prepared.

Of the 10 options presented to the council, ranging from doing nothing to proposing alternate routes, only partial elements of three of the options were considered viable.

Options one and two, ‘do nothing’ and ‘do minimum’, were considered insufficient to meet the community’s needs.

Options five, six, and seven, which were strengthen, optimised low-cost, and optimised high-cost [tailored programmes of interventions addressing problems in each section of the road], were considered unaffordable.

MDC said communities along the road considered the three alternative routes proposed to be expensive, inequitable, and unacceptable.

It said the resultant business case would focus on a combination of options three, four, and five in specific parts of the road.

Residents spoken to said the road was urgently in need of upgrades.

“It’s bloody dangerous,” said Owen Buckman, who lived with his wife at the southern end of the road.

“Especially on the corners, there’s poor visibility. And other parts are washing out – it’s going to go eventually.”

Buckman said he hoped the council would soon start work on the “easier bits” while seeking a permanent fix.

“They’ve got to start somewhere.

“They could try out the EcoReef that is out at South Wairarapa – it was mentioned at the meeting.

“But of course, there’s a huge cost.”

One resident, who preferred not to be named, said he had lived in the area since 1960 and had never seen the road this bad.

“These last five to 10 years, the weather has started to affect it.

“It’s certainly accelerated in the past five years.”

The man said it wasn’t just the access for residents but said the road was also crucial for businesses as the area brought in a lot of tourists.

All residents spoken to said they were happy with MDC’s level of engagement with the community, a sentiment echoed by Mataikona Community Group chair Todd McIlvride.

“Like all coastal areas, as weather patterns change, the waves are washing the road out more.

“And people are having to work around these road closures, and it’s not 10 minutes, it’s half a day or more.

“But people are pleased with how the council has stepped up – they’ve been very robust.”

A tourist on the road said he was pleased that the council was taking some action.

“It’s more of a track than a road.

“I come down here semi-often, and it varies a bit, but the damage is ongoing, and there’s always slips.

“There’s always patch jobs, but I’m not sure what the permanent answer will be.”

Once completed, the business case would be presented to Waka Kotahi NZTA for funding.

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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