Washed away – more houses on the edge of the abyss at the seaside town

Three other homes in Port Waikato are uninhabitable after yards of beach were claimed by the sea in the latest storm.

The popular vacation spot on the west coast of the North Island has long been affected by a natural phenomenon where shifting sand builds up and then erodes the shoreline.

But scientists believed that climate change would intensify coastal erosion through rising sea levels and violent storms.

Sunset Beach Lifesaving Club president Malcolm Beattie said another three yards of sand were lost in the storm earlier this month.

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“It’s a hell of a lot of lost land that we’ll never get back,” he said.

The sloping sandbars are now jagged-edged cliffs, and three other homes on Ocean View Rd had been deemed uninhabitable as a result.

Tons of rocks and rubble had also been washed away, altering the landscape of the beach.

Waikato District Council senior building inspector Rob Koppers said he was working with the three homeowners whose homes are no longer expected to be lived in due to erosion.

Three other homes were deemed uninhabitable due to erosion on Sunset Beach.  The council said none of them were permanently occupied.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Three other homes were deemed uninhabitable due to erosion on Sunset Beach. The council said none of them were permanently occupied.

None of these “high-risk profile” properties were permanently occupied, he said.

“We are actively working with all affected owners to find an appropriate outcome and approach that best suits the owners and bears in mind the erosion risks that currently exist.”

In 2019, two beachfront homes and the community’s surf club were demolished after tipping too close to the sea.

Beattie has been involved with the Sunset Beach Lifesaving Club for 48 years and has seen the beach lose about 40 yards during that time.

He said the ocean tow came in and took from the bottom of the sand dunes and then the top collapsed.

“It’s an ongoing thing, but the high tides last week really destroyed the beach.”

“It’s hard to see what we love about this place disappear. The continuous pounding of the tides, it’s just out of our control.

Sunset Beach lost three meters of sand in the last storm, local lifesaving club president Malcolm Beattie said.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Sunset Beach lost three meters of sand in the last storm, local lifesaving club president Malcolm Beattie said.

Beattie said a group of residents had formed an erosion committee and were working with authorities to try to slow the erosion.

“We’re not going to see this community wiped out, and there’s a bunch of locals interested in doing that.

“There is a plan, but nobody wants to undertake it and pay the money, or do the work.”

He said the group wanted to take sand from the beach and pack it where the erosion was worst.

Consent was needed to do the work — which would cost thousands of dollars, Beattie said. Then the work itself had to be funded.

He said they were never going to fix the problem because nothing could stop mother nature.

What was once a sloping sandbar has become a steep-sided cliff.

Tom Lee / Stuff

What was once a sloping sandbar has become a steep-sided cliff.

“But if we can slow things down and prepare for a big change.”

Jo Poland lives on Ocean View Rd, a few houses away from those recently declared uninhabitable.

“It is almost inevitable that I will have to pay to demolish my house. The rug has been pulled under our feet.

When she bought her home in Port Waikato in 1994, she was warned only about wind erosion.

“We haven’t made the decision. It was not predicted by anyone. »

The ocean is slowly eating away at the sand dunes of Sunset Beach.

Tom Lee / Stuff

The ocean is slowly eating away at the sand dunes of Sunset Beach.

The house was the 70-year-old’s ticket to build a family vacation home and relaxed retirement.

Now she will probably have to demolish her house – and at her own expense.

But it was something she could never afford.

People affected by climate change-induced erosion were not eligible for compensation or funding, she said.

“We are really frustrated.”

Her plan was to move into a garage-turned-office on the property, where she co-run the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust.

“Those of us up the street aren’t so worried, but each house that disappears increases the risk of all the houses disappearing and the port disappearing.”

She said some people were optimistic but it would only take a big royal tide to claim many of their homes.

“We are very vulnerable. This is more a case of hope than optimism. I hope it will stop.”

A spokesperson for the Waikato Regional Council said it was not responsible for doing physical work in regards to erosion.

Kelly Hodel / Stuff

“It is almost inevitable that I will have to pay to demolish my house,” says Jo Poland, who lives on Ocean View Rd, a few houses away from houses labeled uninhabitable.

Instead, he provided his expertise free of charge to help the community find an appropriate remedial solution through the Sunset Beach Erosion Response Plan.

“The team and some of our other coastal scientists have been working with Waikato District Council and the Port Waikato community on the Sunset Beach Erosion Response Plan to address the risk of erosion. “