Here you’ll find information regarding work we’re doing to strengthen sections of the stopbank along the Whakatāne River.

Stopbanks are generally raised earth embankments which provide protection from flooding. They form part of a wider flood defence system that may also include pump stations, floodwalls, drains and flood gates.

There are nearly 400kms of stopbanks in the Bay of Plenty region.

Here's a handy explainer on what stopbanks do:

stop bank diagram

Stopbanks are only as strong as their weakest link and are vulnerable to damage caused by inappropriate use of the stopbank or vegetation or structures that shouldn’t be there.

Over the years non-approved structures, trees and gardens have been established outside private property boundaries (encroachments). These can create weakness in the stopbank structure through which water can flow in a flood and lead to the stopbank failing.  This process is also known as "seepage".

Vegetation and structures are being removed so the stopbank can be repaired and strengthened and continue to do its job to protect the community from flooding.

No. The encroachments being removed are on public land, outside the legal title boundaries of private property owners. However close liaison with adjoining property owners is essential to minimise impacts for private landowners.

The physical works involve the removal of fencing, trees, tree roots, landscaping, and structures from the public land. The stopbank is then remedied by placing and compacting appropriate fill material and contouring the banks. The final stage involves establishing a healthy grass cover. The work will involve heavy machinery and vehicles.

The work is being done stages. Completing each stage on time is weather dependent, however our teams are working to the following schedule:

  • Stage 1: Henderson Street west and Ferry Road complete
  • Stage 2: October 2022 – March 2023 Henderson Street east, Landing Road and Mananui Crescent
  • Stage 3: October 2023 – March 2024 Riverside Drive south
  • Stage 4: October 2024 – March 2025 Riverside Drive north

map of stopbank work

This work only affects those residents who have an encroachment outside their legal property boundary onto Whakatāne District/Bay of Plenty Regional Council land. If your property falls into the encroachment category, you should have already received correspondence from the Council. However, if you are unsure about whether there is an encroachment related to your property, please contact us using the ‘Send us queries’ form below.

Yes, access may be restricted to the Whakatane River Trail at times during the physical works. Please follow the instruction of project notices, health and safety signage and contractors on site.

Regional Council has focussed initially on the encroachments closest to the stopbanks in the urban areas alongside the Whakatāne River. This is because these areas have been identified as high risk in the asset performance and condition assessment work done following the April 2017 floods.

The encroachments, including fencing, also prevent Regional Council from having free and unrestricted access to the landward batter (side) and the crest (top) of the stopbank to maintain, monitor and control the use and condition of the stopbank.

Anyone who wants to carry out work near a stopbank, and any other flood protection and drainage infrastructure assets, needs to consider whether a Bylaw Authority (written permission) is needed from the Regional Council.

Use our interactive map to find your property and see if it is affected by these Bylaws.

The Bylaws aren’t in place to stop people from doing any work on their land, but to make sure any work carried out doesn’t unintentionally affect the integrity of our flood protection and drainage infrastructure assets.

Regional Council’s aim is to ensure the Bylaw Authority application process is not difficult. Our team has, and will continue, to work with landowners to provide for activities in a way that reduces risk to stopbanks.

No. The vegetation and structures (encroachments) are being removed because they’re on Council land and may present a risk to the flood protection system.

Grazing of certain types of stock is allowed under a grazing license. Regional Council acknowledges the best management approach is to exclude stock and regularly mow or harvest the grass. Unfortunately, in many situations, this is not practical or affordable. Grazing is a historical method used to maintain grass growth to enable inspections and to reduce the risk of fire during summer. 

Regional Council is investigating moving away from grazing near urban stopbanks, with a ‘cut and carry’ hay operation. This is where the area is sown to make hay, then harvested on a regular basis.

Regional Council is not involved in the planning or funding of recreational trails. Whakatāne District Council does promote the establishment of a recreational trail on the river bank/stopbank through its Active Whakatāne Strategy.

Please contact Whakatāne District Council for more information.

The concrete floodwall at the rear of Henderson Street and through to Landing Road is an key part of the flood protection system for the Whakatāne River.

This floodwall is located on top of a stopbank and provides the height needed to meet the flood protection level for urban Whakatane.

There will be no changes to the floodwall. However, as part of stopbank remedial work where the wall is located, some trees (and tree roots) growing into the stopbank will be removed.  Removing them ensures the integrity of the floodwall isn’t compromised.  

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PROJECT CREATED

14 Feb 2022

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Project Updates

2 months ago

December 2022 updatece

Bad weather and poor ground conditions during much of November has delayed work on Stage 2. We’re hoping for more settled conditions over the next month to get as much done in the lead up to Christmas.

December 2022 updatece

Bad weather and poor ground conditions during much of November has delayed work on Stage 2. We’re hoping for more settled conditions over the next month to get as much done in the lead up to Christmas.

Contractors will be taking a short break over Christmas/New Year and be back on site from 9 January to continue remediating the stopbank. Work at the eastern end of Henderson Street where the floodwall is located is scheduled to commence late January. 

All work, which involves the removal of a number of large trees, stumps and tree roots, is expected to be completed by the end of March (again, depending on the weather).  Where work impacts existing fencing, please be assured fences will be repaired or replaced when the work is complete.

Once all this work is done, the final stage involves establishing a healthy grass cover on the stopbank, using hydroseeding - a process where seed, fertiliser and biodegradable mulch is mixed with water and sprayed onto the remediated area.

As part of preparing for future Stages 3 and 4 we will be undertaking some soil testing over the summer. In order to get good coverage of results some of this testing will be on private land. If your property is highlighted as a potential testing site we will be in contact with you directly.

Work is also being done to improve drainage along some sections of the riverside ‘toe’ or base of the stopbank behind Riverside Drive.  This involves reshaping parts of the stopbank, installing a new culvert and fencing to protect pumpstation infrastructure. This will ensure safer and easier access for maintenance and work purposes.

The team is also focussed on providing good fish spawning habitat (particularly for native species, such as inanga/whitebait). As part of this mahi, some drain improvements will be undertaken which involves maintaining vegetation on one side of the drain and planting native sedges along any disturbed or damaged section of the drain.

Regular link with community

A new community reference group, which includes residents impacted by the Safeguarding our Stopbanks work, has been established.

The reference group shares information, provides input on Council communications to residents, and feedback to the project team on what’s working well and opportunities for improvement.

The project team and reference group aim to meet monthly.

Keeping flood protection assets up to scratch

Staff are continuing work to assess the condition of council owned flood protections assets, including flood gates, walls, stopbanks and river drainage. This work involves identifying any defects and highlighting potential risk. The information is then fed into council’s asset maintenance and renewal programmes for the river schemes.

You can find out more on the region’s four major river schemes and one drainage scheme on Council’s website.

Council owns and maintains $440 million of flood protection and drainage assets across the region including:

  • Over 380 km of stopbanks
  • Nearly 3km of concrete flood walls
  • 162 floodgates
  • 12 pump stations

Cut and carry grass

Some residents in Riverside Drive, Mananui Crescent, Ferry Road and Henderson Street may have noticed contractors cutting grass on Regional Council-managed land near their property. This work helps ensure that in a flood event river water can easily flow over land between the stopbank and the river.

Contractors, who work under license from the Regional Council, expect to carry out this work several times a year and will endeavour to notify residents of the cutting operation in advance.

Flood Protection and Drainage Bylaws

The team has had a few questions regarding any link between these bylaws and the Safeguarding our Stopbanks work.

These two pieces of work are independent, as the vegetation and structures being removed as part of the Safeguarding our Stopbanks work are on Council land and present a risk to the stopbank’s integrity.

It’s important to note the bylaws aren’t in place to stop people from doing any work on their land, but instead ensure any work carried out doesn’t inadvertently affect the reliability of Council’s flood protection assets.

Some activities needing a Bylaw Authority include:

  • Geotechnical investigations
  • Planting/removing trees or shrubs
  • Building/removing fences, garden sheds
  • Building/extending a house, shed or adding a deck
  • Constructing/removing a retaining wall
  • Constructing/removing an in-ground swimming pool Geotechnical investigations.
  • Subdividing a property

Trail and quad bikes

Whakatāne District Council bylaws prohibit the riding of motorbikes and quad bikes on park and reserve areas. These vehicles can cause serious damage and are potentially dangerous to other users.

If you see trail or quad bikes on or accessing the River Trail or riverside reserve, please contact Whakatāne District Council on 07 306 0500.

3 months ago

November 2022 update

Thank you for your ongoing support of Regional Council work to safeguard stopbanks along urban sections of the Whakatāne River. We trust this update provides a useful update on what’s been happening, where things are at and how to stay informed.

Work is underway on Stage 2, and our sincere thanks to directly affected property owners who have taken the time to meet and discuss this work with us over the last few months. Our team will keep in touch with these owners during the work to ensure any queries or concerns are addressed quickly.

November 2022 update

Thank you for your ongoing support of Regional Council work to safeguard stopbanks along urban sections of the Whakatāne River. We trust this update provides a useful update on what’s been happening, where things are at and how to stay informed.

If you would like to have a chat about this work or have any questions about this update you are welcome to contact us by email at riversanddrains@boprc.govt.nz or phone 0800 884 881.

A quick recap on why this work is underway

Stopbanks are only as strong as their weakest link and vulnerable to damage from inappropriate use, vegetation or structures that shouldn’t be there.

Over the years non-approved structures, trees and gardens have been established outside private property boundaries (encroachments). These can create weakness in the stopbank, which can cause water to flow through during a flood and lead to the stopbank failing.

The Safeguarding our Stopbanks work involves removing some of the vegetation and structures so the stopbank can be repaired and strengthened and continue to do its job to protect the community from flooding.

It’s important to note that this work is not related to Council’s Flood Protection and Drainage Bylaws. The vegetation and structures are being removed because they are on Council land and present a risk to the stopbank’s integrity.

The work is being done stages. Completing each stage on time is weather dependent, however our teams are working to the following schedule:

  • Stage 1: Henderson Street west and Ferry Road complete
  • Stage 2: October 2022 – March 2023 Henderson Street east, Landing Road and Mananui Crescent
  • Stage 3: October 2023 – March 2024 Riverside Drive south
  • Stage 4: October 2024 – March 2025 Riverside Drive north

What’s happening?

Work is underway on Stage 2, and our sincere thanks to directly affected property owners who have taken the time to meet and discuss this work with us over the last few months. Our team will keep in touch with these owners during the work to ensure any queries or concerns are addressed quickly.

Contractors will be in the area until at least March next year to remediate the stopbank, including where the floodwall is located. They will ensure work sites are well marked out, with appropriate health and safety measures in place. The work will be undertaken in two workstreams, with the stopbank section planned to be completed by the end of December and the stopbank/floodwall section to be undertaken early in the new year.

It’s important to note that some of this work is weather dependent, however we’re hoping a settled summer will support progress. The work will involve the removal of a number of large trees, stumps and tree roots. Where this impacts on existing fencing please be assured that fences will be repaired or replaced when the work is complete.

You may also see heavy machinery placing and compacting fill material and contouring parts of the stopbank. Once this work is done, the finishing work involves establishing a healthy grass cover using hydroseeding - a process where seed, fertiliser and biodegradable mulch is mixed with water and sprayed onto the remediated area of the stopbank.

As part of preparing for future Stages 3 and 4 we will be undertaking soil testing over the summer. In order to get good coverage of results some of this testing will be on private land. If your property is highlighted as a potential testing site we will be in touch with you directly.

Our team will also be out progressing other maintenance work along riverside areas of the stopbank. On occasion, this work may involve the use of machinery as part of drainage maintenance and stump removal.

10 months ago

Out of bounds: Safeguarding the Whakatāne stopbank

Plantings and structures outside property boundaries have prompted the need for remediation works along the Whakatāne River stopbank. 

Construction work is finishing up on the first stage of a project focused on safeguarding the stopbank to ensure it continues to function the way it should for generations to come.

Read the full media release

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