Coromandel Peninsula locals are frustrated with tourists and outsiders seemingly still making their way to the sodden and damaged holiday hotspot despite the region feeling the effects of weeks of severe rainstorms.
The main road linking towns on the Coromandel Peninsula was swept away in a major slip during this week’s heavy rain, including a large section of State Highway 25A between Kōpu and Hikuai.
Waka Kotahi says it will take months to fix but, despite pleas from local authorities and residents, Koro Ngāpo, of Ngāti Tamaterā says people are still attempting to make their way to the region ahead of the long weekend.
“He tohu tērā o te kūare, he tohu tonu tērā o te kaiponu. Anei mātou te hunga e noho atu ana ki Pare Hauraki ki te parepare ki te āwhina atu i a mātou nei whanaunga e noho atu ana ki te kainga. Engari mehemea ka kaha tae mai ngā tūruhi ki tō mātou whaitua ka raru rawa atu nei ngā huarahi, ka mutu i te mutunga iho he mea hōhā tērā ki a mātou.”
(That’s a sign of ignorance and selfishness. Here we are those who live at home trying to protect and look after whānau at home. But if too many people, especially tourists keep trying to come into the area our already unstable roads could get even worse. It’s very frustrating.)
Can Coromandel Peninsula’s road network recover?
He says some of the residents of the peninsula have become stranded in their homes or villages and are conscious of the condition of the roading network. But many are rallying around each other and helping out as best they can to assist with the cleanup after weeks of rain.
“Kāore anō ngā kōrero kia tino puta atu engari kua timata ētahi o ngā hapū, ētahi o ngā marae ki te whakatū i ētahi i āhuatanga hei āwhina i te hunga kei raro i te kapua pouri, kei raro i te raruraru i tēnei wā tonu.”
(Discussions are still underway but marae and hapū are starting to set up relief centres for their people who are doing it tough.)
With more rain forecast in the upper North Island this weekend, Thames-Coromandel mayor Len Salt has declared a pre-emptive state of emergency.
“The reason I have done this is because we have an unfolding situation with vulnerable communities, vulnerable people and an emerging situation where we have the potential for landslips and further erosion that we need to manage,” Salt said.
”The main area affected is the west coast, the Thames Coast, from Ruamahunga northward. By declaring a state of emergency we are empowering our agencies and our emergency support services and our staff to be able to manage this situation in a way that protects property and keeps people safe and out of harm’s way.”
The situation is “weather dependent and will depend to some degree on the extent to which the damage that has already been done by water and rainfall continues to make the hills and catchment areas vulnerable to further slips”.
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