Takutai Kāpiti tackles coastline challenges

Takutai Kapiti aims to address the impact of climate change on the Kapiti coastline

Kāpiti Council is moving ahead with its commitment to prioritise how the district responds to coastal challenges in the face of a changing climate, and associated rising sea and groundwater levels.

Mayor K Gurunathan says with 38km of coastline, anticipating and planning for significant environmental challenges that lie ahead for Kāpiti coastal communities, and our infrastructure assets, is a priority.

“Our climate is changing and severe weather events over the past few years have shown us that we cannot afford to be complacent.

“As a coastal community we need to build our resilience and knowledge. Our coastline is home to significant urban development, and our beautiful beaches and the surrounding natural environment are all important community assets.

“If we are to adapt to the coming change we must continue what we started at the Takutai Kāpiti: Climate Change and Our Coast Summit in Ōtaki back in March 2020.

“Takutai Kāpiti, the Council’s community-led coastal adaptation project, will help guide our response to change as a community,” Mayor Gurunathan said.

Under the leadership of former NZ Prime Minister and Waikanae resident, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger ONZ PC, Takutai Kāpiti will engage a Community Assessment (CAP), consisting of iwi partners, community and other key stakeholder/ agency representatives, to develop medium-to-long-term coastal adaption options for Council’s consideration.

Applications for the CAP closed in May and Council is currently working through a process to finalise the CAP membership.

“Ensuring we have appropriate iwi, community and stakeholder representation on the CAP is critical to ensuring the project meets the future aspirations of our iwi partners and community for the Kāpiti Coast District,” said Mayor Gurunathan.

“Once established the CAP will meet regularly over the next 12 months to consider the medium to long term impacts of coastal erosion and inundation and the risks they represent, review a range of adaptation options, and assess these against cultural, social, and economic impacts.”

Council has commissioned Jacobs Ltd to undertake a Coastal Hazard Susceptibility and Vulnerability Assessment for the Kāpiti Coast District coastline, from Ōtaki in the north to Paekākāriki in the south, to help inform the CAP’s discussions. This assessment is subject to an independent review by Beca Ltd.

Takutai Kāpiti Manager Lyndsey Craig says the assessment will update previous coastal hazard assessments undertaken along the Kāpiti Coast District shoreline involving the identification of areas susceptible to current and future coastal erosion and inundation hazards.

“It will identify areas susceptible to current and future coastal erosion and inundation hazards with various magnitudes of sea level rise and the vulnerability of critical council infrastructure, community services and private property to those hazards.

“We’ve been working through a process with experts in coastal science to agree the methodology that will be used to inform the development of the assessment.

“This is a complex area but we are comfortable that the methodology reflects both national and international best practice, and meets the requirements of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 and Ministry for the Environment: Preparing for Coastal Change. Guidance for Local Government 2017.”

“It’s important the CAP have access to indigenous knowledge and technical expertise to help guide and inform their recommendations to Council,” Ms Craig said.

The methodology can be accessed on the Council’s website and a link to the methodology and final assessment will be placed on all future LIMs. Council expects to receive Jacobs final assessment report in advance of the first CAP meeting in July.

Mayor Gurunathan said the updated assessment is an important first step to help us better understand the likely impacts of a changing climate on our district’s coastline over the next 30 to 100 years.

“Predicting what will happen is not easy and we know people will have mixed views about how, when and what actions might be needed. But putting our changing climate and sea level rise in the too hard basket is not an option. We must continue to take positive steps to prepare our communities for the coming change.”

For more information about Takutāi Kāpiti and the Council’s response to climate change visit https://www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/our-district/our-environment/climate-change/