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Published: 2014-05-30 00:00:00

Landowners near Te Aroha say they’ve been very impressed with the help given by Waikato Regional Council cleaning up or repairing damage after the tail end of Cyclone Ita ripped through the area just before Easter.

“They’ve been brilliant,” said farmer Kym Davey, who farms between Te Aroha and Matamata, and who suffered two damaged bridges during the flooding and a lot of stream bank damage on her property. Rainfall was at one-in-100 year levels in places.

The deluge that hit the area came on 17 April when Cyclone Ita hit the Kaimai ranges from Waihekau Road through to state highway 29. Intense rainfall started about 4am and tailed off around 2pm in the afternoon. In that time local landowners reported 250-385 millimetres fell, while the river flow at the council’s Shaftesburys Bridge recording site went from 29 to 160 cubic metres a second.

Water in some 18 streams swollen by the huge downpour caused widespread damage to farmland and farm assets. A large number of slips sent debris downstream, blocking streams and causing water, silt and debris to flow on to paddocks. Farm fences and bridges were completely wiped out in places.

The cleanup began on 18 April (Good Friday) with council staff and local contractors giving up their Easter break to start putting the streams back in their channels, repairing badly eroded areas and removing trees and debris from stream beds and paddocks. Some $180,000 has been spent so far, with the work paid for by a special fund set up for such events.

“It has taken four weeks to get to a stage where the streams are back in their channels and the more serious erosion has been repaired,” said Hauraki area manager Jason Roxburgh.

“There have been up to eight diggers working up to seven days a week to complete this work to allow the landowners to get back to their normal operations. This has been a fantastic effort by the machine operators, local landowners and council staff.

“There is still more follow up work required such as fencing, fallen tree removal and less serious erosion repairs carried out,” said Mr Roxburgh.

Manawaru farmer John Magill said the council was on to his property on Good Friday to deal with stream problems. “We were very happy with the speed with which the council responded and the help given to get the streams back on their right course.”

Another Manawaru farmer Lance Dearlove said his water supply inlet got washed away, stream beds were scoured out and loads of sediment and stone were spread over his farm. The council had removed stones, reshaped a creek and put two stock and traffic crossings back in place. “The council guy worked on our place most of Easter weekend and did a good job of sorting things out.”

Kym Davey said the council had cleared stream blockages, removed branches, dealt with damaged banks and helped put a stream back on course. The council’s quick action had helped avert the potential for further damage to her bridges, she added.