Hari Hari river threat ‘a pretty bad sort of situation’

2:55 pm on 8 August 2023
The southern approach to the Wanganui River on State highway 6. The protection works about 1.5km below the bridge are under threat.

Photo: Greymouth Star / Brendon McMahon

The southern approach to the Wanganui River on State highway 6 where the protection works about 1.5km below the bridge are under threat.

A flood risk fix for the Wanganui River at Hari Hari will be further addressed in a riverbank meeting this Friday.

Wanganui Rating District spokesman Jon Sullivan said last week that a further on-site meeting was needed as not everyone affected by the southern stop bank erosion issue had been able to front up to a meeting on 28 July.

"All the ones that are affected weren't there," Sullivan said.

Addressing the problem was expected to cost more than $250,000. He expected a river bank meeting would be convened in the next couple of weeks with West Coast Regional Council engineering staff.

However the crux of the matter was there was simply not enough money in the rating district scheme to address the southern bank issue, as well as outstanding issues for some northern bank landowners, Mullivan said.


The south bank problem, at the top end of the special rating district scheme emerged in April on the true left bank of the Wanganui River, about 1.5km below the State highway 6 bridge.

The scheme was the largest run of river protection on the West Coast.

Sullivan said with the spring rainy season around the corner, fixing the weakened southern bank remained urgent, regardless of the resources needed.

"The thing is money - that's what it's about - but it's still a pretty bad sort of situation,

"Its not only the left bank but the right bank ... that's another serious issue."

The river bank area on the true right bank immediately below State highway 6 was "another serious issue".

The river had already been cutting in and edging towards the main power grid transmission line through the area, and ultimately the state highway.

On the south side, the risk of a big flood now could see the river turning a new channel through the intensively farmed area below Hari Hari township.

"I don't think a lot of the ones (affected) realise how bad it is," Sullivan said.

"If we get a big flood, she's a massive risk. She's bigger than they realise."

Council had brought in engineering assessments but ultimately the rating district needed to take notice and find a solution, he said.

"I just wonder what the use of doing all of this is if no-one takes any notice - but really it comes back to money."

Sullivan said however there needed to be a more consistent approach to the matter.

It needed a politically-led response so areas like Hari Hari and the Waiho River to the south could get a resolution which did not just involve putting it back onto the rating districts involved.

A recent approach again to West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor had yet to elicit some leadership for constituents in the area over the issue, Sullivan said.

"He hasn't fronted on it at all - it's a bloody disgrace."

Meanwhile the special rating district had agreed to double the rates take in 2023-24 to $200,000, but it was not enough going forward.

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