We were pleased to see there was a good turn out on Tuesday evening for the information session we hosted on the science behind the Buller floods, with a particular focus on the impacts on Westport. The event was also livestreamed and is available to be viewed on the Buller Flood recovery Facebook page.

River modelling expert Matt Gardner, Land River Sea Consulting Ltd, presented some fascinating current and historical information about flooding in this region. His photos, models and graphics provided a thorough (and not too scientifically mind-boggling) explanation for why it does flood here and the conditions that contribute to that.

Unfortunately, Richard Measures, from NIWA wasn’t able to join us due to illness so Matt did a superb job in delivering what was at times somewhat sobering information based both on river and weather modelling. History tells us there’s no reason why Westport can’t flood again as it has in the past.

In short, the modelling tells us that:

  • there is a severe flood risk for the entire Westport town
  • for moderate sized events the highest flood risk comes from the Orowaiti River
  • in large events flooding would enter the town from the Buller and Orowaiti rivers
  • lower areas of the town are very exposed to coastal flooding from cyclones

The modelling has been peer reviewed and is suitable for:

  • Setting building floor limits
  • Designing flood protection infrastructure
  • Assessing potential flood mitigation options
  • Assessing the impacts of increased future flows and sea levels

This might all seem heavy reading, but the session we held this week was just the first step in informing the community about the environment we’re living in and what happens next.

We plan several more information sessions in the coming months, covering the following topics:

Insurance – understanding risk on a national and local level

Adaptation – what this looks like, what the word means, the work that is underway locally and the implications for us as a community, as well as a brief look at the relevant legislation

Options Package and timelines – a package of options is being prepared currently to be presented to central government. The community will be able to engage in consultation on the delivery of these options.

We will keep you posted on the times and dates of these events. Meanwhile, we’re putting together answers to Frequently Asked Questions as a result of this week’s session and they will be posted on our website as soon as possible.

As always, feel free to pop down to the Community Hub in Westport or give them a call on 0800 768 348.

We will be updating the Hub with more information as we go along.

Kia kaha

Bob Dickson

Recovery Manager, Buller Flood Recovery Team

The presentation on the science behind the Westport Floods was hosted by Buller Flood Recovery Manager Bob Dickson (above left), and featured Matt Gardner from Land River Sea Consulting Ltd (above right and far right.)

Learn more:

Watch livestream recording of the event on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R_0QpERKq4

View slide show presentation from the event: Buller Recovery Information Session Presentation – May 17 2022

Frequently asked questions and answers pertaining to the Information Session: Buller Recovery Information Session Frequently Asked Questions