What has become of the Paekākāriki seawall?

Bride Coe expresses concerns about the lack of response from Kāpiti Coast District Council about our vital seawall project and asks for a hui. We asked the council to respond to her concerns and we also publish this below.

Photo: Mark Amery

Bride Coe: Since the adoption of the Long Term Plan Paekākārikians have heard nothing more about the seawall project. 

I suspect that many locals may be unaware that the fully consented, community developed design, is no longer the design that KCDC will use for the replacement of the Paekakariki seawall. 

The volunteer Design Group had a good professional working relationship with KCDC, the community, and various consultants. From that consultation, of over eight years, a design was developed, with a cost of $1.2 million so far in consultants’ fees. But KCDC has replaced that consented design in favour of what the LTP documents term, ‘like-for-like.’

So far, no plans have been put forward by KCDC of the like-for-like design that will now be used. But is a 40 year old design fit for purpose? How much of the form and function, that was in the hard-won consented design, will be incorporated?

One thing we have been told by KCDC is that the ‘upper beach’/walkway/ recreation area, immediately on top of the wall, has been deleted from the proposed design. 

This area was a very significant part of the community design, an area much used and enjoyed by both locals and visitors alike. It has been removed from the proposed design without consultation with the community and replaced with rocks right to the seaward edge of the wall. There is now no lower walkway/raised beach in the design, as at the south end of The Parade. The upper beach had huge amenity value. Also, I suggest, rocks this close to the edge are at risk of being washed onto the beach in a storm. The community did  not want rocks on the beach.

Photo: Mark Amery

There has not been an adequate explanation as to why the upper beach has gone. 

Removal of the upper beach removes the stepped design. A design that would also help diffuse the destructive energy of any waves overtopping the wall.

We were told there was a huge price increase for the consented design. 

We were told a large part of this increase was due to the increased price of the rocks for the upper wall. 

Yet now there will be rocks right to the edge of the wall…so this is either more rocks than the consented design, or the same amount, but certainly not less. How could it be? We need clarification.

Could the rear wall be constructed of timber?…at what cost?…and thus retain the upper beach? We need clarification.

What are the whys and hows of the cost of keeping the upper beach? We need clarification. 

An opportunity to propose alternative options which may well be viable and within budget, thus retaining amenity, is needed.

We need to know what height the seaward wall will be off the beach. It was somewhat lower in the consented design I seem to remember, thus helping to reduce scour. I was led to believe by KCDC that the height of the replacement wall will be the same height as the current wall. We need clarification.

The community deserves to see a proposed design and be able to comment and properly consult on it. What other features that were in the consented design have gone? The Paekākāriki community needs clarity, information, and consultation. 

KCDC was established in 1977, prior to that Paekākāriki was part of Hutt County Council. What significant infrastructure projects have taken place in Paekākāriki since KCDC came into being? I can think of none. And what significant infrastructure projects are likely in the future? Again, I can think of none. 

Yes, Paekākāriki is part of a larger district, and we pay high rates that contribute to district wide projects, but it is Paekākāriki’s turn for some serious investment, both financially and in good design for an important project. 

Paekākāriki is the gateway to the Kāpiti Coast and is about to be side-lined by a huge motorway. Our beach is our heart and soul, our attraction, our recreation area, our marketing point, our place of sanity in a crazy and somewhat terrifying world. It is essential that the beachfront is improved, as opposed to being simply maintained on a 40-year-old maintenance consent, and a 40 year old design, that is now questionably no longer fit for purpose.

Conclusion: The community needs a meeting/hui to update us all on progress or any changes to the seawall design. Logically, this would be organised by the Paekākāriki Community Board.

Photo: Mark Amery

Sean Mallon, Group Manager Infrastructure Services., Kāpiti Coast District Council responds:

The Council remains committed to renewing the Paekākāriki Seawall and has agreed to replace the wall like-for-like in timber at an estimated cost of $17 million. This decision follows consultation with the Council’s 2021-41 Long-term Plan in April and May this year.

The decision to replace the wall like-for-like in timber, as opposed to sticking with the plan that was agreed in 2018 was made because costs and conditions have changed, and the previously agreed plan is now unaffordable.

As far as possible, we will work to ensure we retain the core design elements of the concrete design option worked on with the Paekākāriki Seawall Design Group and the Community Board in consultation with the Paekākāriki community. This includes improving access to the beach for all users and incorporating an art and cultural thread in the design.

The timber wall will be built in stages over the next five years and will be around the same height as the existing timber wall. The reason we have opted to go with a staged approach to renewing the wall is to accommodate the availability of local contracting companies and to enable us to plan construction for when the weather is more reliable.

Work to progress the concept design through to the detailed design phase is underway and it is anticipated that timeframes for construction will be locked in by early 2022.

We acknowledge that the Paekākāriki community has a vested interest in this project and we are committed to keeping the community updated on this project as it progresses via our website, weekly e-newsletter ‘Everything Kāpiti’ and other available channels.

Paekākāriki.nz is a community-built, funded and run website. All funds go to weekly running costs, with huge amounts of professional work donated behind the scenes.  If you can help financially, at a time when many supporting local businesses are hurting, we have launched a donation gateway.