Posted on August 07, 2021 at 9:41 a.m.
MAHIA Identity Merv Goodley fears for the security of Gisborne’s southern transport links.
He says it’s only a matter of time – not if, but when – before a major weather event similar to the 1957 Waikokopu landslide, or earthquake, removes the railway line to Gisborne and the road to Mahia.
Mr Goodley is particularly concerned about the 2.5 km stretch of rail line running along Blacks Beach in Mahia and says Wairoa District Council should speak to KiwiRail.
The Tunanui road (the secondary road to Mahia via Morere) needs to be further developed to maintain access to Mahia, he said.
Mr Goodley doesn’t think the Wairoa-Gisborne line will reopen and rejects the Berl Report’s estimated cost of $ 36 million to repair the line.
He says at least $ 150 million would be needed.
The line requires major work in many places, including a 60 meter long and 50 meter high viaduct at the Tikiwhata stall.
He admires the Gisborne Railbike Adventure trip to Beach Loop and recommends it to others.
Mr Goodley said the torrential rains of August 12, 1957 washed away tons of rocks and soil 100 meters offshore and closed both the road to Mahia and the railway line.
It took 19 bulldozers to clear the landslide, he said.
The Gisborne Herald articles at the time said that 300 meters of the railway line, the parallel highway and the telephone lines had been transported in the sea.
Safety concerns had been voiced for about a week before the slip occurred.
Over the previous two days, NZ Rail workers frequently altered the alignment of the track as it was gradually being pushed out to sea by the slow movement of the hill.
At 9 a.m. on August 12, cracks opened in the face of the hill and quickly widened until the entire section of the hill was in motion.
“I’ve never seen anything worse,” Nuhaka transport operator N. Bluck told the Herald.
NZ Rail staff said 250,000 cubic meters of spoil was washed away, 40% of which was carried overboard.
It was estimated that three weeks were needed to reopen the line.
Witnesses said sheep were swept away by the landslide but were later rescued.
All roads leading to Gisborne remained open, according to the AA.
Due to heavy rains, Darton Field (Gisborne Airport) was closed for three days, all Saturday sports in Wairoa (the slip occurred on a Monday) were canceled and only one of the three golf clubs in the Gisborne town was open on weekends.
THUNDERSTORM WEATHER: Heavy rainy days destroyed the Wairoa-Gisborne railway line with hillside dirt falling into the sea during the Waikokopu landslide in August 1957. Identity of Mahia Merv Goodley says the railway line remains susceptible to damage. heavy rains. Photo courtesy of Gisborne Photo News