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Report gives insights into planned coastal retreat in Hawke's Bay


A new report giving deeper insights into what moving infrastructure and homes away from the coast in the face of rising sea levels could mean in Hawke’s Bay, has been welcomed by Hastings District Council for the broader information it provides.

For some years, the coast between Clifton and Tangoio has been a focus for the Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazard Strategy joint committee, of which Hastings District Council is a member, along with Napier City Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, mana whenua, and coast communities.

The committee has been looking at the implications of climate change for this part of the coast over the next 100 years, and what the response strategies could be to hazards such as erosion and inundation.

Hastings committee member Ann Redstone said that while planned retreat was one option to be considered for the long-term, more information was needed to assess the many implications this would have on local authorities, mana whenua and, not least, the communities living there.

“This report is a good start to give us the deeper understanding we need to inform our long-term strategy. There’s no doubt we have to address the coastal issues being brought about by climate change but we need to consider all options, including hard and soft engineering structures.”

The committee commissioned the Tonkin+Taylor Implementation approaches and indicative costs for planned retreat report to investigate what planned retreat could look like in Hawke’s Bay.

“Planned retreat has not been well-defined in how it can be achieved at scale in New Zealand. Without a nationally consistent model we wanted to understand how it could be applied in Hawke’s Bay,” said committee chair and regional councillor Jerf van Beek.

Regional Council group manager for asset management Chris Dolley said the report enhanced local understanding of what planned retreat might look like, what areas might need to be retreated if nothing was done to reduce hazards and risks, by when, and at what cost.  
“The report is clear and does not constitute a recommendation for the implementation of planned retreat in preference to other options. Rather, it gives the community information needed to make decisions,” he said.
The report showed that planned retreat would be expensive, take a long time to implement, and would have a big impact on the community.

“It considers different ways to retreat, and explains that each approach has its own challenges.”

As expected, the costs are significant, with a high-level estimate of just under $2 billion to implement retreat over the lifetime of the strategy. The costs include planning, preparation, engagement, enabling investment, active retreat, and clean up. The report lays out the merits of where to defend coastal land to buy time.

“It gives us a much clearer picture of what might be involved in a planned retreat response, meaning we can better compare different options to manage coastal hazards in Hawke’s Bay,” Mr Dolley said.

The report does not describe how future costs should be apportioned to landowners, councils, or the managers of infrastructure assets.

The report canvassed options including the purchase of properties, noting these options had not been proposed, discussed, or decided by the Coastal Hazards Joint Committee, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Napier City Council or Hastings District Council.

A Regional Council proposal asking who should take charge of adapting to coastal hazards between Clifton and Tangoio is currently open and running until 31 July. Feedback can be made at

More information on the Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazards project is at

14 July 2022

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