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Published: 2004-05-12 00:00:00

Environment Waikato and Waitomo District Council staff met with worried coastal home owners and iwi representatives at Mokau earlier this week as erosion of the frontal dunes threatens several houses.

At least two homes at the end of Beach Road are very close to a five metre dune scarp following high tides and swells last week, which swept away parts of the dune. At the meeting, staff from both councils talked with concerned residents about long-term management options.

The Waitomo District Council recognises this area as a high-risk erosion zone, prone to severe cutback of the dunes, which last occurred 10 years ago.

“We are dealing with one of those most difficult environments – an open coast river mouth system. In this area erosion has cut back the beach much further than in living memory. This is a dynamic, high risk area with a long history of erosion,” Environment Waikato Coastal Programme Manager David Pearks said.

“Councils have in the past discussed with residents various options, including the relocation of houses, protective sea walls and softer engineering options such as dune replenishment. Any option undertaken must be sustainable long-term.”

He said the current problems may have arisen from changes in the offshore bar in conjunction with very high tides and swells in early May, which had led to greater wave energy on the beach.

Environment Waikato would be assisting the District Council in working with affected property owners, Mr Pearks said.