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Mauao base track repairs

In April 2017, a section of the Mauao base track was destroyed during ex-Cyclone Debbie. Council is working to restore and improve the track for the long-term.

Mauao slip image - June 2017

Temporary access installed

Temporary access has been restored to the base track, enabling walkers to complete a loop around Mauao.

Box steps have been built up and around the slip site. They are designed to be removable, and with no earthworks required to install them they have minimal impact on archaeological sites in the area. The temporary access solution is not wheelchair or pram accessible. It will remain in place until a long-term solution has been completed.

The long-term solution

After the slip occurred, we asked Tonkin and Taylor to undertake a high-level analysis of the slip site and suggest possible repair options, including estimated costings. The most resilient and sustainable option was a new 350-metre track, positioned below the current slip location, approximately three metres above sea level. This was seen as the best long-term repair on a section of Mauao that is prone to slip failure.

The preferred option was presented to Council who approved a $2.2 million project budget to complete the works.

A detailed design was developed and tendered. However, after extensive negotiations with the two tenderers, it became clear that the cost of the repair would be higher than the initial budget. 

Council staff sought direction from the Projects, Services and Operations Committee on Tuesday, 25 June 2019 where the mayor and councillors unanimously agreed that further analysis should be completed before a decision is made.

Council staff will now go back and look at the other repair options in the Tonkin and Taylor report to determine the time and cost associated with developing the options. We will seek direction from the mayor and councillors on which options to investigate further.

The slip

A 14-metre slip occurred in difficult terrain in a culturally and historically significant area of Mauao. Repairing the base track at the slip location is not a resilient opinion, as the area is on a part of Mauao that is prone to slip failure.

What was the proposed long-term repair?

The proposed new track was to be a minimum of 2 metres wide and run along the beach, at three metres above sea level, offering visitors easier access to the water and a view of the statue of Tangaroa. It was proposed to be a mixture of boardwalk and pathways.

Mauao slip map

Why is it not going ahead?

Council approved up to $2.2 million to reroute the base track. However, after a thorough investigation the total cost of the repair was upwards of $5 million.

Before Council commits to level of investment, other repair options will be considered, and if appropriate, investigated more fully.

We need to find a solution that is possible, will be approved by Mauao’s owners and Heritage New Zealand, and delivers on community expectations. 

Why is the proposed long-term repair so expensive?

The initial slip was 14 metres wide. However, the more we looked into the slip, the more it became apparent that there is a stretch of about 250m of track that is built on a relic slip. Generally, if an area has slipped before it will again – it’s just a matter of when.

If we repair just the section of track that’s currently damaged, we’ll wind up carrying out these repairs again and again every time a new part of the track slips. This will incur costs many times over. Repairing only the slip area would also require cutting into the mountain, which is in opposition to the management board’s objective of preserving Mauao’s natural character and landscape.

Instead, the proposed repair was to avoid the unstable area entirely by realigning the track. This is costly, particularly in this area as there is no vehicle access – materials will need to be shipped in by barge.

Why not go over the slip, rather than underneath it?

There is a significant archaeological Pa site above the slip which would be damaged by any earthworks in the area. Building a track through the site would be in opposition to management objectives for the reserve, and would be unlikely to be approved by heritage authorities.

Who owns Mauao?

Mauao is private land owned by the Mauao Trust, held in the names of the three Tauranga Moana iwi (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga with Waitaha a Hei as an advisory trustee). Tauranga City Council works alongside the Mauao Trust to manage the reserve. This administration body is called Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao.

Last Reviewed: 05/07/2019


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