Te Rauone Coastal Care Group chairman Hoani Langsbury on Te
Raone Beach which is crumbling into the sea. The group is
trying to convince the Dunedin City Council to invest in a
breakwater that could halt the erosion problem. Photos by
The Dunedin City Council will invest up to $50,000 in a
breakwater at Te Rauone if its own assessment of the project
And it would consider taking ownership of the groyne only
once it understood what it could potentially be liable for in
It could also require the private property owners who would
benefit from the erosion protection the groyne should offer,
to pay for its ongoing maintenance, possibly through a
The tiny settlement on the Otago Peninsula took up nearly two
hours of councillor discussion time during the pre-draft
annual plan hearing in Dunedin yesterday. Residents of Te
Rauone have been trying to get the council, which owns a
reserve among their properties, involved in the beach erosion
issue for more than 10 years.
Port Otago has proposed it should construct a breakwater at
Te Rauone that would protect both private properties and the
The residents have offered to pay for half of the about
$160,000 construction cost, and have asked the council to pay
the other half and take ownership and future maintenance
responsibilities for the groyne.
Councillors yesterday agreed that, pending positive outcomes
from the council's own investigations of risks and costs
related to the project, it would contribute a proportionate
amount, up to $50,000, to the installation of the groyne.
If the review was favourable, it would then identify an
ownership structure that met its concerns about liability,
ongoing maintenance, sea level rise effects on the groyne,
land owners involved, a confirmation of charging mechanisms,
including, possibly a targeted rating scheme, and any other
risks of council involvement.
Cr Paul Hudson started the debate by urging councillors to
make a decision, and not leave Te Rauone residents with
uncertainty for another year.
''We have sat on our backsides and our hands regarding this
issue since 1993, when residents first approached the ORC and
DCC, but even at that stage it was clear ORC did not want to
be involved ... Please, whatever we do, decide it has to be
in this year's [2013-14] annual plan, so the residents
threatened by the seawater are clear about what the decision
A sign erected by locals at Te Rauone, where erosion is
affecting a council reserve.
Whether the council should spend ratepayer funds to
protect private properties, possibly setting a precedent
concerning protecting private properties from erosion from the
sea, was the main concern around the table.
Cr Jinty MacTavish said she, as the ward councillor for the
affected area, had given the complex situation much thought
and decided the council should not take any responsibility
for protecting private properties from the sea. Given the
predicted sea level rise, it would bankrupt the council.
She was supported by Cr Lee Vandervis, who said the council
should be giving ''a clear indication to these people, and
residents in other outlying areas like Aramoana, Te Ngaru
etc, that we are simply not able to turn back the sea and
simply not able to save their properties.''
Mayor Dave Cull said if the council was to accept the
responsibility for protecting all private property from sea
level rise, ''the debt from the stadium would look like
''We all acknowledge the council does not have an obligation
to private landowners, but protecting the reserve will cost
us something, anyway, at some level, and I can accept a
composite deal is acceptable. However, I am very concerned
Cr Richard Thomson said he wanted to know whether the
council's public liability insurance would cover and
unintended consequences from the breakwater before he could
be happy with taking ownership of the groyne.
He also raised the issue of a targeted rating to cover the
long-term maintenance costs.
Cr Bill Acklin said he had listened to the Te Rauone
community's pleas for the past 18 months and the problem was
beyond their control.
Deputy mayor Chris Staynes said the matter was complicated by
the fact the residents who would benefit were the people who
had over the years built their own protections, which were,
in turn, accelerating the erosion of the reserve.
''My view is the situation will not go away because sea rise
will continue. It is time for the residents to understand
putting in a groyne is a short-term solution.''
Although they were concerned about the short period of time
for large amount of work the council sought, council staff
agreed to report back to the community development committee
The proposal will be open to feedback from the public, during
the consultation period on the draft 2013-14 annual plan.