Gisborne residents whose seafront properties were damaged by spring tides at the weekend are being warned rocks temporarily put in place to keep the sea at bay may have to be removed.
Three homes on Pare Street in Wainui were evacuated after 4m easterly swells damaged a sea-wall on Friday.
Heavy rocks were put in place by contractors to protect the homes.
Gisborne District Council said it had applied for a retrospective consent for the emergency works, and if it wasn't granted, the rocks would be taken away again.
It said all repair work was on hold for now, and other options were being considered.
"We're working with our policy, regulatory and engineering staff, as well as the Wainui Beach community to find the right solution," said Gisborne District Council director of lifelines David Wilson.
"To be clear, a managed retreat of the houses and septic system is still an option, but there will be further conversations at Council before any steps are taken on a permanent fix."
The emergency works were completed under Section 330 of the Resource Management Act. An application for retrospective consent for the work will be lodged within 20 working days, the council said.
Any erosion protection work must comply with the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, the RMA, the Wainui Beach Management Strategy and the Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan.
Residents had been informed that, while rock was used as a temporary means of securing the houses and septic tank, there was a possibility it would need to come out again if retrospective consent wasn't granted, the council said.
Several other properties on Pare St had gabion baskets in front of the houses destroyed, but there was no immediate risk to property, people or the environment.
The council was seeking advice on whether the gabion baskets could be repaired or replaced.
"We have made the call to not undertake further works unless absolutely necessary, as we believe any further works at this stage would not meet the test for emergency works under the RMA. Should things change down there we will reassess our options," Mr Wilson said.
Excess rock from the emergency work was stockpiled at the end of Pare St in case any further damage occurred.