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Trial may ease coastal community’s battle against erosion         

May 9, 2022 May 2022 No Comments

Cape Palliser Road winds its way along one of the wildest stretches of coast in the world. A dramatic rise in severe weather conditions in recent years have also increased the number of road closures at the Cape, cutting off residents and creating expensive damage. 

It’s an ideal environment for a world-first trial of a new product called EcoReef by Wellington company Agmar Tools.Agmar’s managing director Fred Waiker spends much of his time in South Wairarapa and felt the coast would be the perfect place to put EcoReef to the test. 

The “reef” is made up of interlocking hexagonal blocks filled with aggregate, a replacement for the boulders that are frequently washed away. It’s being trialled first at Whatarangi, and another will be installed at Turners Bay in the more placid summer months. 

One of the beauties of EcoReef is that it reduces the need to transport the boulders from other regions and eco-systems. Instead, it uses excess aggregate from local rivers which needs to be removed. Once filled, the hexagons become very strong. 

“But the key is, the structure itself doesn’t have much ground pressure, so you can build it in soft sandy environments. You don’t have to create a foundation for it like you would do for a big, strong structure of other types,” Fred says.

Councillor Brian Jephson and Council climate change adviser Mélanie Barthe live on the southern coast. Barthe said that while in the long-term the residents were up against nature at Cape Palliser, in the short to medium term, EcoReef would likely make their road more resilient. 

“The current state of the road is not good. At least several times a year now, the road is covered with debris because of swells, or even broken.’’ Cr Jephson said it was “hats off” to Fred and his son Henrik and their passion for a better solution for the coast, which if successful could provide a solution in other coastal parts of the country. “They have done it with saving the coast in mind,” he said. “Time will tell but at the moment it looks very, very promising.”

Agmar is providing EcoReef for free with installation by South Wairarapa District Council contractors Fulton Hogan.  Fred says there has been “quite a lot of interest already” since the trial started, particularly from people trying to protect historical sites.

Please see the video of the EcoReef’s installation at https://ecoreef.co.nz/


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