Proposed rating change

The Northland Regional Council (NRC) is currently asking for comment on a rating change to the Kerikeri-Waipapa river management plan. Households affected by the change should have received a letter from the Council outlining these changes.

Flood control is being improved by a high flow spill way to prevent or limit flooding in the Waipapa area which in extreme events can see the Kerikeri River break its banks with water flowing overland to join the Waipapa River.

There are two natural flow paths for this flooding of the Kerikeri River:

  • One is via the Whiriwhiritoa stream at the Waipapa Commercial Estate

  • The other spills across Waitotara Drive and Waipapa Road.

As NRC says the Kerikeri River has a long history of flooding on this flood plain. The Waipapa commercial area still has a limited sewerage system, poor soils and a high water table. In fact it is surprising that development was permitted there and it gives the impression of; opportunism by a developer now long gone and pressure on the Council of the time and, our extremely permissive effects based plan, rather than careful strategic planning.

The flood protection work will divert water away from housing, across farmland through an old river channel to emerge 700 metres downstream of Rainbow Falls”. You can download the full details here.

The view from Waitotara Drive looking across the reserve with the Kerikeri River and Waipapa Road in the background.

Last year NRC proposed a targeted rate which everyone paid uniformly regardless of the level of benefit received. This has been revised with a differential rate now being proposed.

Those getting a direct benefit from flood protection will pay more than everyone else at a ratio of three to one ($73.74 to $221.22 per rating unit). This seems a reasonable compromise though no doubt the numbers can be debated. The map below shows the area that will incur the new rate; pink $73.74, yellow $221.22.

Vision Kerikeri does, however, commend NRC and FNDC for taking measures which are moving toward rainwater catchment control by integrated catchment management. This is quite novel in Northland which has not had a culture of catchment control.

After a slow start, NRC, in recent years has undertaken detailed surveys of Northland catchments, modelling and flood mapping them, and it is producing management plans for 26 priority catchments. As a result of this work, the FNDC has a much better knowledge of areas of high risk and can plan accordingly. This will be useful for the District Plan review now underway.

Up to this point, flood control was only undertaken in a few places in Northland notably Kaeo and Kaitaia but this is largely about dealing with effects rather than cause.

The political problem is that land owners (for obvious reasons) do not necessarily want their property identified as being in a potential flood hazard area. There is also the difficulty of getting them to pay for flood control works.

Land owners on flood plains indeed may not be able to afford the necessary works which is why it is sometimes necessary to create a general rate for a whole district in order to fund it.

Integrated catchment control also requires the involvement of the NZ Transport Authority (NZTA) which is responsible for road design and implementation. In Northland whole trees are often brought down in storms which clog culverts under roads and assist flooding.

You have until 4pm 22 April to provide your feedback to the NRC. See link to the NRC website below:

Links related to this article:

Details of proposed flood protection scheme scheme (NRC web site))

Feedback on annual plan (NRC web site)

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