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Climate Change on our doorsteps (literally)

Written By: - Date published: 2:08 pm, July 25th, 2016 - 89 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: ,

A coastal storm in Wellington over the weekend has forced roads to be closed, washed away 4 meters of land in front of a house, taken out a 10 metre section of sea wall, and threatened a local fire station. This kind of damage in New Zealand from high tides and big waves is not new, but the frequency and number of events is increasing. However what stood out for me in this event was the vulnerability of the Plimmerton Fire Station. From the Stuff report,

In the Porirua suburb of Plimmerton, 10 metres of a seawall had been washed away and water was lapping at the doors of the Plimmerton Fire Station, which backs on to the beach.

Chief fire officer Carl Mills said it had been an exceptional storm.

The Porirua City Council had taken sandbags to the station, to protect its back doors from the encroaching ocean.

On Sunday evening council contractors placed 13 1.5 tonne concrete blocks between the sea and the station, to act as a temporary seawall.

Six months earlier there had been sand dunes around the back of the station, but those had all been eroded away, leaving the building exposed.

Mills said the last time the seawall had been compromised was during the June 2013 winter storm, but this time a bigger section was damaged.

He expected it would take at least six months for the damaged section of sea wall to be replaced.

It’s one thing to have to take a different route to work. It’s another when your local emergency services are put at risk from a simple storm. How often can the seawall be repaired? At what point do the repairs become uneconomical, or simply unviable with sea level rise? Shifting the fire service building is probably not too problematic, but there is other critical infrastructure where the solutions aren’t so simple. It’s time we were auditing all coastal areas for what is going to need to be moved, not in some hypothetical CC future, but soon. And we need to be having this discussion publicly, so that communities can be involved in the decisions that will be affecting their future in new ways.

South Dunedin is already having to deal with this, and it sounds like Wellington is up next. For both those cities and their local communities, climate change mitigation and adaptation should be a significant part of the up coming Local Government elections in the Spring.


Update: Please try and keep comments on topic i.e. about infrastructure and other risk in NZ from CC, what can be done about that, the role of councils, government and the people in that, related mitigation/adaptation issues etc. I’m happy for that to be broad but would prefer some attempt was made to relate to the post. We have lots of experience and perspective on CC amongst the Standard readers/commenters, let’s make good use of it. 



89 comments on “Climate Change on our doorsteps (literally)”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    We need to make big changes to how local councils are funded and their scope of responsibility re: climate change.

    Hundreds of millions a year need to be spent on climate change resistant infrastructure and currently most councils are too cash strapped to do more than write reports about it.

    • Garibaldi 1.1

      We all know what these free market right wingers think of climate change hence it doesn’t figure on their list of priorities.

      • weka 1.1.1

        yep, probably best we don’t rely on them 😉

      • srylands 1.1.2

        Why are you conflating “right wing” and “free markets”? Markets represent the solution for effective climate change mitigation.

        For example, The Economist newspaper has long championed the severity and urgency of the climate change challenge. Yet the promotion of markets is the newspaper’s founding principle.


        “The worst risk is that a justified sense of accomplishment will engender a debilitating complacency. The Paris agreement drew on impressive reserves of diplomatic savoir faire and international solidarity. But if it is to live up to its promise, countries will have to make full use of the mechanisms for ratcheting up emissions cuts and accelerating adaptation for decades to come.”

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          People associate free market dogma with right wing belief systems for the same reason as racism and Climatology denial: because they are good predictors of one another.

          • In Vino

            Good point. I was going to ask Srylands if he even knew what Socialism means. It was the ridiculous outcomes of Capitalism based on the so-called ‘Free Market” that brought socialism into existence. Capitalism, however, dislikes its own consequences, and resorts to repression. Especially when it comes to Climate Change.
            Climate change is going to kill Capitalism. But the current Capitalists are unwittingly making it likely that we will all perish.

    • weka 1.2

      It would be interesting to see how that fits in with the changes to the Local Government Act from a few years ago. I had the feeling the emphasis was now meant to be on infrastructure.

      I had a quick look online for what NZ is doing, and there are definitely documents looking at the issue (haven’t had time to read through yet). But I think the conversation needs to be taken out into the general public.

      I see Little is in South Dunedin today. I’ll be interested to hear what he did, was there a public meeting for instance.

  2. BM 2

    Wellington is a stupid place to have the countries capital.
    If sea rise doesn’t root it, it’s only a matter of time before an earthquake takes it out.

    Move it to Hamilton, safest place in the country.

    Or at the very least move the civil defense headquarters.

    • b waghorn 2.1

      yeah that’ll solve climate change

      • BM 2.1.1

        Nothings going to solve climate change.

        Lots of change coming up so the first thing on the list of preparations would be to move your main government services out of harms way.

        • Robert Guyton

          Or better, set up the House on the sands of Oriental Parade so our politicians get a taste of the real world.

        • Colonial Viper

          Nothings going to solve climate change.


          We may be able to avoid 3 deg C climate change if we move really FAAAAST. But I can’t see it happening, particularly globally. We will cross 2 deg C globally by 2030, if not before. 4 deg C by 2050.

          Todays primary school kids will be around 40 years of age then, with their own young kids, facing a failing global habitat. Too bad for them.

          So mitigation and contingency planning is it. 2m sea level rise is coming. The only question is whether it is in 50 years or in 250 years.

          • marty mars

            Empty words are certainly not going to make any difference to how we manage the changes coming.

            I agree that vulnerable infrastructure needs to be moved. An audit is a good place to start – good idea.

            • Colonial Viper

              Re: empty words…listen out for any politician or group who talks about 2 deg C warming as being avoidable.

              They are lying through their teeth to us.

              • Bill

                No. It’s not that they would necessarily be lying through their teeth CV. But the basis of any such claim should be evaluated to see if it’s in the realm of reality or fantasy (eg – negative emissions). There is, according to Anderson, still an outside chance that we can avoid crashing through two degrees. And he doesn’t base his analysis on fantasy or wishful thinking…he simply does the numbers.

        • srylands

          That is not helpful.

          If by “can’t be solved” you mean ‘can’t be stopped’ then you are correct.

          However climate change can, and is being mitigated. The problem is that people are unwilling to change their behaviour commensurate with the problem. Governments reflect those preferences. For example we will keep on driving inefficient petrol powered vehicles while that is the most cost effective way to get from A to B. The Government could fix that by making petrol $3 per litre. if it did, would the Labour Party support it? No. They would say it is unfair on poor folk.

          And moving the capital from Wellington is just nuts. I hope you were kidding.

          • Garibaldi

            The mitigation you talk about is peanuts. Our attitude of economic growth at all costs has to stop as does our use of fossil fuels – ain’t going to happen is it? So brace yourselves for huge changes in the next couple of decades.

          • Bill

            Putting petrol up to $3 a litre wouldn’t really do much at all. You’re right that it wouldn’t be equitable – and our government committed to take action on climate change to hold temperature below 2 degrees based on equity (Copenhagen, Paris and others).

            $3 would put poorer people off the roads and probably lead to inflation or something. But besides that, it wouldn’t do jack in terms of bringing emissions down.

            The poorest 50% of people in society produce about 10% of society’s emissions.

            Both Chancel & Picketty and Oxfam ran independent studies on emissions by end user and both came to that same conclusion. (It essentially echoes ‘Pareto’s Rule’ that many suspected could be applied to emissions)

            If the world’s 10% of highest emitters (roughly correlating to the worlds richest 10%) reduced emissions to a European average, then global emissions would drop by about 30%.

            • Colonial Viper

              The true cost of carbon based fuels is not currently being represented at the price at the pump, nor in the products that we import.

              That needs to change.

              A carbon fee and citizens dividend system is not all of the answer, but it is part of the answer in shifting businesses and organisations off carbon based fuels.

              • weka

                I think the points being made here are good and useful, and I’m wondering it we could apply our knowledge and understanding to relate back to the post? It would be brilliant to apply the kind of critical thinking happening here to specific situations e.g. Wellington or South Dunedin. (I added a comment at the end of the post).

              • Bill

                There’s a camel over here would agree with you. Of course, when you actually look at that kind of price driven solution, it becomes really fucking clear that it. does. not. work. (And no, it’s not even a part of an answer – any more than bending your knees as you take a leap from a very high building would be any part of an answer to an impending problematic landing.)

                edit – sorry Weka. Just saw your note.

                • weka

                  No worries. It’s a conversation I’d like to see happen, but would prefer it in a post dedicated to that specific topic.

            • AmaKiwi

              Airlines are an elephant in the room.

              Out of thousands of flights me and my extended family have made, I can only think of ONE that was absolutely necessary. It was a medivac flight to a hospital to save my father-in-law’s life.

              I stopped flying several years ago on moral grounds.

              • Colonial Viper

                Professor Kevin Anderson, an outstanding climate change scientist and presenter, hasn’t flown by air for about a decade, for similar reasons.

                NZ should cut the total number of international and domestic flights by 10% a year over the next 5 years, and 5% a year after that.

                It’ll crash our tourism industry, but that’s going to go eventually anyway.

        • weka

          “Nothings going to solve climate change.”

          I’d like to know what you mean by that BM. As pointed out, there is a difference between preventing CC from happening at all (that ship has sailed a long time ago), and mitigating the CC that now exists. Which are you referring to?

          • BM

            I sort of view it along the same lines as CV.

            Climate change is like some massive ship that’s going to take centuries to turn and change course.

            It doesn’t matter what we do currently, the next what ever number of centuries are probably going to be quite hard going, once you get out that far into the future predicting or changing anything becomes rather futile.

            if there is an answer it’s going to be found some where in the future.

            In the here and now, It’s much better to prepare than try and stop.

            • weka

              I think CV believes it’s possible to mitigate, he just thinks we won’t do it because of politics and capitalism etc.

              The problem with your position is the potential and eventual likelihood of runaway climate change. That’s not ‘quite hard going’, it’s catastrophic. We still have time to prevent or lessen that. You also appear to think that CC is a set thing. It’s not, it’s a range of potential futures and we don’t know yet which ones are going to happen, and we still have some choices in which ones we get.

              In terms of NZ, runaway climate change would present us with problems far beyond having to move vital infrastructure because of sea level rise. So adaptation for places like Wellington and South Dunedin are important if we just look at the coastal impact of sea rise. But if we’re looking at gale force winds that take out forests and buildings, or droughts severe enough that we can’t grow enough food, where we have government will not be that high a priority. If we don’t mitigate, those kinds of things are inevitable.

              • Colonial Viper

                That’s not ‘quite hard going’, it’s catastrophic. We still have time to prevent or lessen that.

                Evidence that we still have time, please.

                A 50GT release of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost is possible at any time. Such a release could start at any time, and it may take just months to complete.

                Such a release would more than double the effective GHGs in the atmosphere.

                • weka

                  The answer is in your use of the word ‘could’. Please read the update at the end of the post, and take the rest of the discussion to OM. It’s off topic.

            • Bill

              if there is an answer it’s going to be found some where in the future.

              That’s incredibly wrong headed BM. It’s the CO2 that we’re expelling into the atmosphere today that’s the problem. And if the emissions of the here and now accumulate to (say) 4 degrees of warming, then no-one has the foggiest on how to adapt to that or prepare for that.

              Seriously. Go and look for peer reviewed studies on 4 degrees – you won’t find many. The problem with those temperature rises are kind of the same as your “100 years from now” problem – the permutations or possibilities are huge and largely unknown.

          • Colonial Viper

            Crisis level climate change killing tens of millions and displacing hundreds of millions of people is now unavoidable. There will be climate change wars and rebellions (Syria is the most recent but there will be more).

            Authoritarian military right wing rule in Europe will rise in response while drought throughout the United States will raise political temperatures in that country even further. Cities and towns throughout California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and various other states will be deserted. Tumbleweed.

            NZ will be flooded with climate refugees from the Asia Pacific. Hundreds of thousands of them.

            Meanwhile, I hope that a Lab/Gr NZ government will encourage more sales of hybrids and electric cars as well as building lots of car charging stations.

        • In Vino

          By the way, BM, Hamilton is not high enough above current sea-level. Unless you are curiously short-sighted and optimistic.

      • BM 2.2.1

        I remember that, I think they were housed in some of the less salubrious areas of Fairfield.

        Poor bastards

    • Rosie 2.3

      🙄 @ BM

    • Lloyd 2.4

      Earthquakes have caused Wellington to rise consistently over the last 10s of thousands of years.. Wellington may be one of the few sea-side capitals left after a few centuries and 60m of sea-level rise. Since much of Hamilton is only 40m above sea level Wellington’s hills might be a better long term bet than the central Waikato……..

  3. esoteric pineapples 3

    It’s only a matter of time before insurance companies stop insuring properties just above sea level. Like a metaphorical tsumani, there will be a few small waves first followed by a series of big ones. After that, every vulnerable property in New Zealand will only be valuable as a squat till it eventually gets swallowed by the sea.

    • weka 3.1

      yes although there might be a silver lining, which is that some properties will drop in market value but still be liveable in for quite some time, freeing up housing and making it more affordable. But year, people over committed financially will have particular challenges, and it will be interesting to see how NZ responds as a society to that. An EQC for CC? And at what point does it become realistic to say, hey we’ve known about CC for a long time, why did you think it was going to be ok? At what point will people be cut loose?

  4. adam 5

    Weka, may I suggest you put the same warning you put on a previous post. To easy for doom and gloom brigade to post otherwise.

    In other words – solutions people, not your take on a disaster movie.

    Me I think we need to walk around the country with a tape measure and anything important below 6 meters. Rebuild it higher. Then create infrastructure around it that can cope with high winds and big storms.

    • weka 5.1

      Thanks adam 🙂 I actually forgot all about the end note. I’ve added one now, and shifted a comment to OM. It would be good to get our thinking more on the specifics for NZ and what can be done.

      “Me I think we need to walk around the country with a tape measure and anything important below 6 meters. Rebuild it higher. Then create infrastructure around it that can cope with high winds and big storms.”

      Here’s a map that looks at various sea level rises in NZ starting with 10m.


    • Colonial Viper 5.2

      It will likely take 100-200 years for sea level rise to hit 6m.

      I think we set the level at 2m rise and move on. There are higher priority things to handle.

    • jcuknz 5.3

      I live around ten metres above current sea level so I’m safe …Yeah RIGHT …. always thought a beach front property would be nice. Apart from waves crashing over S.DN in a southerly. SIMT rail link will be metres under water. Both here and at Waitati etc.
      The Fly I T Oiontment .. access will only be by boat.
      Good News … I will be long dead before anything much of this happens.

      What amazes me is that the DCC has been approving new and rebuilds in South Dn for years with a water table just a couple of feet below it Max.. And often the new houses are built at ground level instead of say a couple of feet above to minimise insurance costs when the place floods … as I say not my problem BUT 🙂

      • adam 5.3.1

        Does anything the DCC or the ORC does amaze you anymore jcuknz?

        I mean they are on their own waka sailing to God knows where.

    • johnm 5.4

      Eric Rignot is Professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine,[1] and principal scientist for the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

      He is a principal investigator on several NASA-funded projects to study the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheets and Antarctic ice sheets by using radar interferometry and other methods; the interactions of ice shelves with the ocean; and the dynamic retreat of Patagonian glaciers. In particular, Rignot’s primary research interests are glaciology, climate change, radar remote sensing, ice sheet numerical modeling, radar interferometry, radio echo sounding, and ice-ocean interactions. His research group focuses on understanding the interactions of ice and climate, ice sheet mass balance, ice-ocean interactions in Greenland and Antarctica, and current/future contributions of ice sheets to sea level change.[3]

      In 2007 he contributed to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report WGI


    • Lloyd 5.5

      Why 6m? Once all the ice melts we can expect a 60m sea level rise.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      All year summer, awesome

      • jcuknz 6.1.1

        No frost to kill off the nasty bugs ….

        • adam

          We got the mossies back in Auckland. It still officially winter, so I’m thinking bumper crop of the filthy mongrels this summer.

          A tiger mossies (Aedes albopictushas) has sucked my blood already. Looks like it going to be the year of the blood suckers.

    • Rosie 6.2

      That’s nuts. I don’t find these temperatures curious. I find them alarming. We had 16 degree’s overnight in Wellington the other night. This time of year should be around the 5 degree mark.

  5. Bill 7

    In relation to the post, which seems to be focusing on coastal infrastructure, I guess the only answer is to look at the studies around how much sea level rise will be experienced in different parts of NZ.

    Personally, I’d add a fair degree of ‘precautionary principle’ to any figures because every time I read some update on CC, it’s always a case that things are projected to be much worse than previously held.

    When you’ve decided on the safety margin, look to a time scale you expect various sea levels rises to occur. Then look at the age of the infrastructure that could be affected and on the basis of its expected life span, decide whether to let it go or shift it.

    It would probably also be worth looking at the actual resilience of the infrastructure in question and then decide whether it gets retro-fitted or abandoned/replaced.

    eg – many south Dunedin houses could likely be moved (where to is a seperate question) But is it worth while moving them if they’re not built in a way that would be suitable for conditions likely to prevail before their life span is up? ie – could they be retro-fitted, or would it be better to replace them entirely?

    • weka 7.1

      re the last paragraph, true, and I think that many of those houses will be liveable in for quite some time to comes, so auditing for how to manage flooding and the costs of that vs moving would make sense. But the DCC should at this point not allow and more building in specific South Dunedin areas unless those buildings are removable. I think the preliminary work on which areas are affected has been done.

    • Sabine 7.2

      i would like to lay may hands on some of the scenarios Insurance companies look at when assesing future risks. I wonder if places like Mission bay, the North shore, Te Atatu Peninsula etc would still have the houses insured. If not, apply a full building stop in these areas.

      • weka 7.2.1

        We should also be looking at stopping building in places that will be more of a fire risk in the future.

        • Sabine

          emergency planning is a whole different level. And we are not prepared. Not at all.

  6. Pat 8

    Local Government Act, reports, insurance, flood risk…..these situations will and are being addressed to mitigate the problems of the future?

    now for the real world….
    “At a recent surveyors’ conference here in Christchurch, UN Margareta Wahlström, the head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk reduction (UNISDR) singled out urban flooding as the greatest global risk to communities over coming years. This is very relevant to the Christchurch situation, where there has been significant land settlement and areas are now exposed to extreme flood risk. Despite this, CCC, EQC and Council are claiming that everything is fine and that buildings do not need to be lifted. Adrian reminded listeners that many New Zealand insurance policies (before the earthquakes) had no limit to the cost of reinstating buildings (no limit to the sum insured). Yet in the South Brighton area, almost no buildings have been raised to the 11.8 m, never mind the 12.3 m floor level. Of the properties in the South Brighton area that have been recently surveyed, and presumably rebuilt, almost every single one now has a hazard notice. This transfers the risk of flooding and erosion from insurers and Council to the homeowner. This is happening in Christchurch, which is ironically a member of the so-called “100 resilient cities” group.

    Council has also been holding what appear to be secret meetings with insurers and PMOs since the earthquakes. There has been absolutely no evidence of Council actively trying to help ratepayers.”




    • weka 8.1

      re the hazard notice, does that mean that those homes are now not insured for flooding?

      “Yet in the South Brighton area, almost no buildings have been raised to the 11.8 m, never mind the 12.3 m floor level.”

      Is that metres above sea level?

      • Pat 8.1.1

        hazard notice is recorded on title…it may impact insurance ( including EQC coverage) and resale.

        the FFL (finished floor level) measurements are taken from the city datum which is set from a historical point above sea level (in Littleton harbor I believe)

  7. Macro 9

    Meanwhile in Chch………
    How anyone can make any progress on this issue is beyond me.
    Those with vested interests will use any form of argybargy to obfuscate delay and deny the reality that they confront. Last night I watch the film Truth, a film about one of the most famous events in the history of American journalism, did not make the same impression. This is perhaps because, unlike Spotlight, Truth is a film about how the good guys lost. People don’t like that kind of movie as much. What’s more, not everyone agrees the good guys lost.. It reminded me of Orwell’s 1984, and the Ministry of Truth. Truth they say is stranger than fiction and so it proves to be. For the message is now being lost in a flurry of misinformation and denial. The past 14 months have seen the global temperatures for each month the highest they have been since 1880, the West Antarctic Ice shelf is poised to disintegrate along with Greenland, yet we still have the useful idiots posturing and running interference as hard as they can.
    I fear for the lives of my grandchildren. My kids may get by ok, but 50 – 60 (if not before) years from now, those around will curse us for our inaction and greed.

    • weka 9.1

      I hear ya Macro, it’s very hard to take. I think we are making progress though, despite the vested interests. Things are changing, and we need to be ready for when they start changing rapidly. I’m talking about in society, not in the natural world. I don’t look to the conventional authorities for the solutions on this, although I think they still need to be held to account in whatever ways we can. I think our best hope is when enough people are feeling the pressure to act. I don’t mean the general public, I mean the people of conscience. Thanks for the link.

      • In Vino 9.1.1

        ‘ I don’t mean the general public, I mean the people of conscience. Thanks for the link.’
        My fear is that people of conscience are a dying breed. I hope not – partly because I teach in a secondary school, and see so many wonderful youngsters.
        How do we promote people of conscience when MSM so consistently try to deaden that very type?

        • weka

          I see it happening on social media a lot. Not that I’m the biggest fan of that medium, but there are definitely people with social consciences doing work there. So I think there are definitely people with conscience. It’s how to get us taking the next steps in terms of action. Black Lives Matter is inspirational, we need to get to the point where not being active becomes intolerable or when we have more to lose if we don’t act.

  8. johnm 10

    Being practical! Weka 🙂 I can’t see anyway that seaside properties will not eventually be unsaleable. If I lived in one I’d sell it now before this reality becomes known by everyone.

    The problem is sea level will keep rising and rising for perhaps another 200 years. So building a seawall to protect our low lying city seafronts is a temporary measure.

    We don’t have the collective will but we should begin a measured year by year retreat from the coast to higher land, we need to begin now and keep onto it for decades.But in our atomised neoliberal order the funds and collective will to do this doesn’t exist we’ll leave it to the market as per usual. With a collective effort we could compensate homeowners losing their homes.

    • weka 10.1

      Agreed re sea walls and a staggered retreat. We won’t have a neoliberal government forever, and once people start to feel the pinch there will be more push for change.

      “With a collective effort we could compensate homeowners losing their homes.”

      I would guess that some people at least are covered by insurance (obvious exemptions explained by Pat above). At some point that will stop and I’m not sure how that situation can be resolved fairly. At what point can people be said to have engaged wilful ignorance?

    • johnm 10.2

      Scientists predict huge sea level rise even if we limit climate change

      Study of past sea level changes shows coastal communities may face rises of at least six metres even if we limit global warming to 2C, reports Climate Central

      Even if world manages to limit global warming to 2C — the target number for current climate negotiations — sea levels may still rise at least 6 meters (20 ft) above their current heights, radically reshaping the world’s coastline and affecting millions in the process.

      That finding comes from a new paper published on Thursday in Science that shows how high sea levels rose the last time carbon dioxide levels were this high.

      That was about 3m years ago, when the globe was about 3-5F warmer on average, the Arctic 14.4F warmer, megasharks swam the oceans, and sea levels stood at least 20 ft above their current heights.

      The megasharks aren’t coming back but those sea levels could be, no matter what happens in December’s climate summit in Paris.


    • jcuknz 10.3

      The retreat needs to not only be the flood areas but also the ‘safe’ houses on the foothills which currently have access by the flood plains. As I mentioned previously.

  9. AmaKiwi 11

    Does anyone know about agriculture and our (NZ) capacity to produce food under these scenarios?

    I have been told many staple crops cannot survive at projected higher temperatures. Usually the best arable land is adjacent to rivers which can be destroyed by salt water floods.

    Moving to higher ground won’t help if we can’t grow enough food.

    • weka 11.1

      Assuming we don’t get runaway climate change (which requires us to act radically in mitigation terms), I think in NZ we will be fine. Much of the mainstream commentary on food and CC is based on how the big, global, industrial food supply chains would fail. Monocropping grains and soy is some of the least resilient ways of growing food. We have many other options based on sustainable agriculture. In NZ there are people who’ve been doing the work growing in new ways and I think there are enough of them that those techniques could be shared and taken up pretty quickly.

      We also can relocalise food production. I find it helps to think about specific places (usually catchments) and see what food could be grown there if sustainable agriculture was used. So Dunedin would be fed predominantly from what could be grown in the city, on the Otago Peninsula and on the Taeri Plains. That looks doable, although I’m not sure how high above sea level the Taeri is.

      Drier, hotter places will be problematic (Central, Marlborough maybe), but much of that could be assisted by reforesting. People have lived successfully and grown food in much hotter places than NZ is likely to be. The issue will more likely be extreme weather events. Drought we can probably cope with. Big winds is another matter (and not one I’ve seen a lot of thought given to).

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        So Dunedin would be fed predominantly from what could be grown in the city, on the Otago Peninsula and on the Taeri Plains. That looks doable, although I’m not sure how high above sea level the Taeri is.

        Dunedin will be fine. Auckland and to a lesser extent Wellington and Christchurch are…ahem…in less good shape. (I would have used that other phrase, but it’s not approved).

        The Taeri plains start to disappear at 2m sea level rise and will be effectively useless agriculturally at 3m-4m of sea level rise.

        • weka

          I don’t know the North Island very well, but Christchuch and the surrounding area could be transitioned to regenag and land restoration in the time we’ve got.

          “The Taeri plains start to disappear at 2m sea level rise and will be effectively useless agriculturally at 3m-4m of sea level rise.”

          So again, a fair amount of time to transition to what comes next. Once we stop thinking conventional agriculture and starting thinking of food growing designed around the landscape and climate it exists in, then it looks different.

          I don’t know about Auckland, but a huge amount of food can be grown in cities (half of all the food eaten in Havana, post peak oil, was grown in Havana, so the saying goes). All those inner suburbs that haven’t been infilled because rich people have resisted high density can be converted to food production 😈

          Of course we don’t know how much land is needed to feed 5 million people in NZ, that work does still need to be done.

          Here’s some financials from an urban farm in Quebec. It’s mostly focussed on the small business aspect, but it does say they’re feeding 200 families from 1.5 acres. Allowing for that not including protein etc, it does give an indication.


          • Colonial Viper

            These things could be done but unless 4% to 5% of farms are converted off conventional farming per year, every year, we won’t hit the run rate needed in time.

            That’s at least 500 full size (say 100 ha.) farms converted per year, in round numbers.

            First steps may be to cancel all farm debt, stop farms operating for international markets, and expropriate farm land back from foreign owners.

            Which political party is going to do this. Or even have these steps on their radar. (Rhetorical question).

            • weka

              I don’t know about that. I’ll have a look and see if the regenag people have looked at transition times, but I know that permaculture can convert pretty quickly.

              I think once it becomes more mainstream that not only will regenag feed us, it will reduce our GHG emissions, there will be much more interest, including politically. The big problem isn’t how to convert, but as you say how to get us past the idea that farming is for export and making money. That’s the killer because of the central role it plays in the economy.

              As for political parties, the first thing we need is to shift the culture away from dairying doing whatever the hell they like. Only one party with that seriously on their agenda. Plus the public are fed up with the situation too.

              • Colonial Viper

                You seem to think that radically converting hundreds of thousands of hectares of land from one use to another, and from one management philosophy to a completely different one, can be done “pretty quickly.”

                This suggests to me that you don’t have any experience in this field.

                • weka

                  We’re talking generalities here, and we haven’t defined the time period it would have to happen in. By pretty quickly I’m talking over a year or so. Annual food production more quickly. Food forestry much longer. That’s the actual getting the land functional stuff, not taking into account issues of economics, politics, ideology etc. So if we were having a medium paced global crash (think the pace of what Cuba went through), then I think NZ would be ok to produce food without big farma and that we could then transition to regenag.

                  If you are meaning it’s not technically possible in terms of the land, the internet is full of people proving that it is.

                  If you are meaning that the transition has to be done by people immersed in a culture that don’t understand sustainability and change, then I’d agree that’s a problem. But I also think that by and large NZers are adaptable, esp rural people. And many rural people are more open to doing right by the land than they are given credit for.

                  I have enough experience, both my own on a small scale, but also from knowing many people that are doing these things, and some on a large scale.

                  Amakiwi expressed concern about NZ’s ability to grow food as CC gets worse. But that stuff isn’t going to happen overnight, we have more time to transition the food supply than we do to get off FF.

                  But it’s late, and I’m still talking generalities. I just don’t think food production is one of NZ’s big challenges (politics are our main problem).

                  What’s your experience in the field?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    show me any internet example of where they have converted a significant intensive dairy farm (a few hundred or few thousand hectares) into the kind of new farming technique you are talking about.

                    Re: my experience in farm management science it is in geospatial land and rural land use analysis. What’s yours. Apart from reading the internet.

                    By the way our now massive dairy sector took two decades of full tilt land conversion costing billions of dollars. Thats the time and cost of major land use conversion.

  10. Jenny 12

    “If anyone asked me, I would say that dealing with the effects of climate change will become increasingly difficult and then, impossible.”

    “Off topic”, or stating a truth that others don’t want to face?

  11. johnm 13

    Paul Beckwith, climate scientist, has a formula to stop CC in its tracks. He calls it the three legged bar stool approach. My reaction it’s mission impossible.

    1. All CO2 emissions must stop virtually now! If they did our energy intensive civilisation would collapse.

    2. We must remove CO2 from the atmosphere any way possible.

    3. We must geoengineer, to cool it, the Arctic Icecap to stop its retreat to the point of a blue water event in September which would eventually lead to an ice free North Pole all year round. This would lead to massive methane releases as the Ice Age freezer which locked them all up in clathrates and frozen tundra vanishes. The combination of increased heat from no albedo and methane releases would probably mark the end of the World as we know it. Whether we’d survive this is another matter.

    Also http://www.paulbeckwith.net

  12. Rosie 14

    The council’s involvement and mitigation of the effects of climate change, such as sea level rises, AS WELL AS strategies to to reduce greenhouse gasses, in this neck of the woods has been pants, to put it mildly.

    I have banged a head against a brick wall till it bled trying to talk to council leaders in Wellington about their lack of action. Further up the thread is a discussion about air travel – why are we even flying everywhere when we know the damage this does? Get a train, catch a bus. It’s more enjoyable. Yet Wellington CC are dead set on building a airport runway extension out into the sea to take bigger planes, which no airline has yet to take any interest in. This is the Wellington council, with their 20th century thinking.

    It is the Porirua City Council that has the jurisdiction for the sea levels arounds Porirua Harbour, Pauatahunui Inlet and the Plimmerton coastline featured in weka’s post. I’m not sure how the Porirua CC works and what their veiws are on climate change.

    What I can say is what we witnessed at Plimmerton on Sunday was staggering. In a high wind and high tide you often get waves breaking over the sea wall and a bit of foam splash into gardens. Some residents have built new curved concrete barriers, which I an assuming will prepare them for a future of higher sea levels and greater storms. They would have been tested on Sunday. I watch tide times and usually drive out to watch wild weather depending on whether the conditions are right for ocean violence. What we saw on Sunday will become more normal we can all agree, but humans won’t be able to cope. I got some excellent video footage and put it on my fb page – look for Pacific Rosie on fb. Truly in all my years of knowing these coastlines I’d never seen anything like it. Sea water was actually flowing back out of front lawns and back on to the beach. On the way back the sea had submerged the decks of the floating houses on the Pauatahanui inlet.

    • weka 14.1

      Thanks Rosie, great to have reports from locals on the ground. Great idea to go out and witness what is happening in those storms (I love storms). I can’t see the video on your FB page though.

      • Rosie 14.1.1

        I think what you might be seeing is my public timeline. I am new to fb so am trying to navigate around. I have tried to set my actual timeline as the public timeline but it didn’t work………..thats ok, no biggie.

        Feel free to send a friend request if you like, if you’d like to see the two video’s. It really was violent.

  13. Sabine 15

    and another article here….


    i have friends in haumoana, they call it paradise.

  14. gsays 16

    Good post weka, perhaps the time has come for councils to say they will have nothing to do with sea rise damages.

    this would be a place for a conversation to start about the wider implications of climate change.

    keep up the good work.

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  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
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  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
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  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
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  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
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  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
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  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
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  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
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    2 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
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  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
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  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
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    3 days ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
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    3 days ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
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  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
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  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
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  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
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  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
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  • Advance payments to support contractors
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  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
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  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
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  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
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  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
    The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause. “Supermarkets will be able to open ...
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  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
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    5 days ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
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    5 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
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    1 week ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago