Hukerenui farmer Evan Smeath was late last week filling the channel he had cut in a Hikurangi Swamp drainage scheme stopbank, claiming the action he had taken to drain ponded flood water from his and neighbours' land had no impact downstream.
But at Tangiteroria, farmers felt he had contributed to flood damage on their properties and the thick layer of silt the receding Northern Wairoa River had left on their grass.
The flooding was the worst Ambie Beatty, 55, could recall in his lifetime at Tangiteroria and his wife, Jan, said the river had risen 150mm after the stopbank was cut last Monday, releasing ponded water into the Wairua River, which flows into the Northern Wairoa.
The Beattys milk 400 cows on 452ha alongside State Highway 14. Nearly half their farm went under water, a cowshed they had built higher than Mr Beatty had ever seen the river reach was flooded and a new covered feed pad was among several farm buildings in the area which had its roof damaged in the storm's high winds.
"If you live beside a river you take the good with the bad and get on with it. But when flood protection upstream is cut, that's not fair," Mrs Beatty said.
"If everyone took matters into their own hands and behaved like that, Dargaville would probably get flooded."
Dan Porter, who milks 200 cows on 100ha in Paradise Rd downstream from the Beattys, lost his farm's main water supply when the flood swept away his pump shed.
"We've had 60 per cent of our best flats under water for six days and it's left a hell of a mess. It's gut-wrenching to say the least."
Mr Porter considered Mr Smeath's stopbank cut was taking liberties at the expense of others.
"He could get a $1000 fine while saving $60,000 by draining his place.
"We're all in the same boat trying to make a living from farming land we know floods. The people up there [in the Hikurangi Swamp] know rules are rules and it's their water which comes down to flood our farms."
However, Mr Smeath said cutting the stopbank had not exceeded swamp resource consent flood discharge limits and an independent hydrologist, Philip Wallace, had confirmed cutting the stopbank had no impact downstream.
Mr Wallace told the Northern Advocate data on the Northland Regional Council website indicated there had not been an impact, but "I haven't looked at the situation in any detail".
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