Landslip threatens Matua homes

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Tauranga City Council manager of city development Paul Baunton said the landslide was a typical erosion type of slip. Photo / File
Tauranga City Council manager of city development Paul Baunton said the landslide was a typical erosion type of slip. Photo / File

Four Tauranga homes are sitting precariously close to a sheer cliff face spanning 40 metres after a large slip uprooted heavy trees as it crashed down Matua's peninsula.

The slip was reported to emergency services just before 1pm yesterday but happened about 4am.

Ian Watson and partner Marlis Holmes woke to the sound of land giving way at the rear of their Rewarewa Place property.

"We heard this thump and things moved in the house because it was such a big thing," Ms Holmes told the Bay of Plenty Times.

They had been expecting a small slip but "we didn't expect the whole damn thing".

The slip took with it two of the couple's five chickens. Their coop has been left hanging off the edge of the newly-formed cliff.

"I just felt so bad for the chickens," she said.

"There they were down the bottom looking up at me. They would have had a hell of a ride."

The couple's home is now about 5m-6m from the edge.

Bellevue resident Anna Sjardin-Killick called emergency services after noticing the slip about 12.45pm, concerned someone could have been trapped underneath.

"We looked out and saw quite a section had just fallen away and there were just trees and debris down the bottom. It looked huge from here."

Tauranga City Council manager of city development Paul Baunton said the landslide was a typical erosion type of slip.

"It looks dramatic because of its height but the depth of it is not that large, probably no more than a metre," he said.

Two weeks ago, Mr Baunton was called to a slip involving one of the other houses.

"This is all probably one slip all going from time to time. [It] could be right for tens and tens of years or just a few months but it all depends on the amount of water and if you have a look at the rainfall over the three-and-a-half to four weeks, it's put a lot of water into the ground and the pressure on the soil is a lot higher."

Mr Baunton said the council would be in touch with home owners to instruct them to make contact with the Earthquake Commission (EQC), to send an engineer to survey the site and report back on the risk to their homes.

Geotech engineers were called in to independently assess the slip.

It would not be until the engineers and EQC reported back that further action was taken in relation to the slip.

Wet weather also closed the Waterfall Track at McLaren Falls this week.

The popular track was closed because of a slip that washed out part of the track and a walkway bridge.

Tauranga City Council spokesman Marcel Currin said it was not known when the track would be reopened.

Metservice has forecast heavy and thundery rainfall for the Tauranga region today with showers also expected tomorrow.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council felled a tree at Te Puna Station Rd yesterday because the bank it was on was becoming too dangerous with the recent wet weather, a spokesman said.

The tree was expected to be cleared later today.

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