Wave warning system on the way

4 May 2020

A wave-warning alert system has been initiated on Wellington’s south coast and exposed parts of Wellington Harbour, including the Eastbourne-Pencarrow coast, as a result of the damage caused in Owhiro Bay last month by big swells driving through Cook Strait.

MetService is to provide the swell warning to the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and Hutt City Council. Additionally, MetService will provide trial access to its oceanographic portal for six months, developed specifically for maritime and governmental agencies by their sister company, MetOcean Solutions, for forecasting offshore and near shore wave conditions.

The initial agreement was reached on Friday in a second meeting involving Owhiro Bay Residents Association representative Eugene Doyle, representatives from MetService, WREMO and the City Council, and Paekawakawa Southern Ward Councillors Fleur Fitzsimons and Laurie Foon.

It is intended that MetService data would be used to provide public warnings to seaside communities and to residents’ associations. Representatives from the organisations will meet to discuss details of the trial in the next week or so.

Mayor Andy Foster says: “I’d like to congratulate Eugene and all the parties who’ve got together in the past couple of weeks and worked hard towards this initiative.”

Mayor Foster adds the new warning system will undoubtedly be looked at with interest by councils and emergency organisations in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile WREMO staff have undertaken to provide a report in a week’s time that will cover what happened, what needs to be done to improve the current alert system, and what else can be done with South Coast communities to help reduce risk and improve their level of preparedness. City Council officers also undertook to take advice on the feasibility of managing the grade of the beach following requests from some local residents, who felt this might mitigate future events.

Mayor Foster adds he also intends to discuss with Council staff the implications of the wave damage to the track from Owhiro Bay to Paiwhero Red Rocks and tackling the build-up of gravel under the Owhiro Stream bridge. Hutt City Council says it welcomes the wave-warning initiative.

The group that met on Friday via teleconference will meet again this Friday 8 May.