Flood protection upgrades provide opportunity for biodiversity and locals

Horizons Regional Council flood protection upgrade work on the Mangaone Stream is returning the area to a more natural state and providing development opportunities to locals.

Horizons project engineer Andy Williams says the work includes removing a timber retaining wall which currently provides protection to the stopbank in high flows, reestablishing a berm along the stream and native planting to stabilise the area.

“The retaining wall has now reached the end of its useful life and rather than replacing it with a hard engineering solution, such as another retaining wall, we have chosen to re-establish a more naturalised berm on the outside of the bend,” he says.

“This allows us to plant natives and improve biodiversity habitat, as well as provide added stability to the bank.”
Mr Williams says people walking the path along the Mangaone Stream will see work underway from this week and hope to have it completed by Christmas.

“We have installed a sediment trap and fish barrier to minimise impact on the stream and engaged Rangitāne last week to transfer fish out of the working area,” he says.

This work is part of one of Horizons’ climate resilience projects and jointly funded by Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit. In addition to building community resilience to severe weather events and climate change, these projects provide local employment and development opportunities.

“The contractors employed to undertake the upgrades are Pratt Quarries Ltd from Kairanga and recently spent a day with our freshwater team to learn about the ecology in our streams prior to starting the work,” says Mr Williams.

“This has helped them get a better understanding of the impact works in rivers can have on aquatic life and why we do things during the process such as sediment traps. This knowledge not only upskills their staff, but also means they can help landowners they do work for understand wider implications too.”

Mr Williams says he also working with the Highbury Whānau Centre to provide opportunities for their youth to gain some work experience in the civil sector through the project.

“Rakaunui Rukuwai, a local 16 year old, is getting a structured training plan with the goal of being able to operate a small excavator competently and safely.

 “We are also putting Rakaunui and one of Pratt’s staff through their wheels, tracks and rollers drivers license which will increase their skill set.”

Peter Butler of Highbury Whānau Centre says it’s great to be able to offer young people experiences that will set them up well for future employment opportunities.

“Young people such as Rakaunui just need an opportunity to experience what work looks, feels and taste like,” he say.

“We are extremely grateful for organisations such as Horizons and Pratts, and especially the staff of both organisations, that are open to providing the mentoring and patience required for young people to gain some understanding of what it takes to move into employment.

“When we work collectively on developing these pathways we can ensure social and business outcomes align. Now it’s up to Rakaunui to seize the opportunity.”

For more information on the climate resilience projects please see here.