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Concern grows over Kumaras walkway destruction

June 19th, 2012
[by David Armstrong]

Concern is growing over the security and future viability of the popular Kumaras walkway after recent storms damaged and threatened to wipe out its northen-most section.

The walkway, which was built and is maintained by Keep Motueka Beautiful (KMB), ends with a 1km-long strip between the golf course and the Raumanuka Reserve car park, including a short boardwalk part way along near where the sandspit meets land.

Last year after a series of high tides began to erode parts of the track, KMB began work to raise the section of this strip between the golf course and the boardwalk. (See our story here.) Two piles of clay fill have been standing nearby for some time to complete this work, but there has not been enough funds available to do it fully.

The big storm two weeks ago, coupled with a king tide and low-pressure surge, brought in large, energetic waves that easily overtopped this section of the walkway, causing considerable damage and destruction of land adjacent to the track.

Largely because of a lack of plantings and vegetation in the northern-most section, part of the foreshore land where the information signs are installed at the head of the spit has now completely disappeared. Much of the gravel that topped the walkway has been washed inland.

Some temporary heaping work has been done to protect one badly exposed stretch, but KMB's project manager Bob Cooke told the group's committee last night that a long term solution is needed, as one more king tide with large waves may wash away the rest, leaving no land remaining for a walkway to sit on.

Furthermore, a permanent breach of the low bank will allow high tide waters to extend inland across the adjacent farm to Thorp Street. The thought of likely sea level rises due to climate change is also a long-term concern.

The section of the track between the boardwalk and the golf course, while still intact, has had all of the fine gravel surface washed away, lowering the level and leaving base-level stones exposed across the now-sloping track, and making it uncomfortable for walkers and cyclists.

One or both of two solutions is needed, Bob Cooke said: rebuild and raise the existing path another 30cm at least and make it 50cm wider as well, and/or relocate the path onto the privately-owned paddock on the west side of the property fence.

Complicating the issue is the ownership of land within this narrow strip. The track is currently on Department of Conservation land, but nearby is Maori-owned land and private property. KMB will consult with DoC with regard to securing the existing path and hopefully planting the area to de-power large wave action.

Another factor makes this issue more pressing: apart from the frequent use of the path by local walkers and cyclists, this track is also expected to be the main route of the Great Taste cycle trail as it traverses Motueka.

KMB members questioned whether they should be required to pay for the upgrading of this path when the Cycle Trail Trust will be using it, and likewise whether it should be Tasman District Council's role as part of their responsibility for Foreshore Protection within their Engineering Department. KMB currently has only about $5000 in its budget for this work.

Looking south, damage to the beach includes stripping away of most grasses.

A temporary mound has been dug out to hold back the next king tide.

The most destruction has seen the total washing away of the grassy area and dunes
to the left, beside the sandspit signs, with timber and grass debris piled up to the right.

On the track to the golf course, large stones are exposed where the top gravel layer has washed away.


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