Help at hand for flood-ravaged Banks Peninsula landowners

A number of Horomaka/Banks Peninsula landowners impacted by the December 2021 weather event are receiving a financial leg-up to help restore their properties’ biodiversity.

The torrential rain had an unprecedented impact on the eastern bays of Horomaka – and on its precious environmental assets.

The deluge caused large slips and flooding, washed away roads and other infrastructure, and left many communities cut-off.

It also devastated native forest areas and inundated streams and wetlands.

Reprioritised fund to assist landowners

In response, Environment Canterbury immediately reprioritised an existing fund for biodiversity projects such as wetland and biodiversity protection, planting to prevent erosion, and restoration of riparian areas.

Around $90,000 has been made available for this financial year and more is in the wings for 2022/23.

17 landowners are being assisted through this round. Most are wanting help fixing fence-lines.

Swift action provides relief

Banks Peninsula resident Shireen Helps and Alice Shanks from QEII Trust survey the damage

Pohatu-Flea Bay resident Shireen Helps and Alice Shanks from QEII Trust survey the damage

Francis and Shireen Helps own and operate ‘Pohatu Penguins’ in Akaroa and were among those whose property suffered significant damage.

The flood washed away access to their farm and house, destroyed their garage/workshop and its contents, and caused the loss of several little blue penguins/kororā.

The couple were thrilled with the swift action from Environment Canterbury, which worked with the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust and QEII National Trust to quickly identify areas that needed help.

“Within days, ECan contacted us to find out how we were, and how they could assist.

“Because of this grant, we have been able to rebuild the damaged fences around our covenants. This for us means ECan has greatly contributed to the ongoing protection of Banks Peninsula’s native biodiversity. The promptness of their response is greatly appreciated.”

Goughs Bay resident Marie Haley says even now, the scale of loss at her property is still hard to bear – with conservation fencing, forests, and streams all destroyed.

“We and our immediate neighbours lost almost all stock fencing, meaning for weeks cattle were wandering all over the bay.

“The biodiversity team at ECan were amazing. They came to see us within a week of the event and returned several times to assess the damage to the streams. They offered hope that we could turn this into a positive by setting aside even more slip-ravaged land for biodiversity gain.”

A biodiversity haven

The Goughs Bay stream system was devastated by the flood

The Goughs Bay stream system was devastated by the flood

The eastern bays have retained more native forest cover than anywhere else on Banks Peninsula, and are home to a variety of endemic, threatened, and iconic species of animals and plants.

Many landowners in the area, like the Helps and Haley families, have made considerable investments in protecting these values with support from Environment Canterbury, the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust, QEII National Trust, and Christchurch City Council.

Environment Canterbury Zone Delivery Lead for Banks Peninsula and Selwyn Waihora, Gillian Jenkins, says it was great to be able to provide some early assurances.

“We wanted to offer financial help as soon as we could – particularly to the repair of crucial fences which exclude stock from covenanted areas.”

Future funding

Additional funding of $100,000 will be rolled out over the next two years to further progress repairs, and to improve levels of biodiversity protection.

If you’re a landowner in the eastern bays of Banks Peninsula who was affected by the flood and haven’t already been assisted, you’re welcome to get in touch to discuss funding opportunities. Please contact our biodiversity team by emailing martin.rutledge@ecan.govt.nz or will.todhunter@ecan.govt.nz.