News: EcoReef trial at Cape Palliser

23 April 2022

South Wairarapa District Council and a Wellington have joined forces to help protect Cape Palliser Road from coastal erosion.

A dramatic rise in severe weather conditions has increased the number of road closures at the Cape, cutting residents off and creating expensive damage.

But for Agmar Tool’s managing director Fred Waiker, the Cape’s rugged conditions are the ideal environment for a world-first trial of his company’s new product, EcoReef.

The “reef” is made up of interlocking hexagonal blocks filled with aggregate, a replacement for the boulders that are frequently washed away.

The first reef has been placed at Whatarangi, and another will be installed at Turners Bay in the more placid summer months.

Waiker says one of the advantages of EcoReef is that it reduces the need to transport boulders from other regions and eco-systems to the Cape.

Instead, it uses excess aggregate washed down local rivers which needs to be removed. Once filled, the hexagons become very strong.

“But the key is, the structure itself doesn’t have much ground pressure, so you can build it in soft sandy environments. You don’t have to create a foundation for it like you would do for a big, strong structure of other types,” he says.

Councillor Brian Jephson and our climate change adviser Melanie Barthe live on the southern coast.

Barthe said that while long-term the residents were up against nature at Cape Palliser, in the short to medium term, EcoReef would likely make their road more resilient.

“The current state of the road is not good. At least several times a year now, the road is covered with debris because of swells, or even broken.’’

Cr Jephson said it was “hats off” to Fred and his son Henrik and their passion for a better solution for the coast, which if successful could provide a solution in other coastal parts of the country.

“They have done it with saving the coast in mind,” he said.

“Time will tell but at the moment it looks very, very promising.”

Waiker said there had been “quite a lot of interest already” since the trial started, particularly from people trying to protect historical sites.

Agmar is providing EcoReef for free with installation by Council’s contractor Fulton Hogan. See a video of EcoReef’s installation here.

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