Hope has returned to the lives of three Omokoroa families after a deal has been struck with the council to try to stabilise eroding cliffs.

''It's good to have some go-forward,'' Ruamoana Place resident John Roper said.

He was responding to the decision by the Western Bay District Council yesterday to go halves in a scheme to shore up massive slips that threatened their homes.

''It is a world-class environment - that is the reason we live here,'' he told the Bay of Plenty Times.


The residents will pay $100,000 each and the council $300,000 in an innovative new solution called the ''chimney drain'' method. Otherwise the council and residents faced huge engineering hurdles to try to stabilise the erosion.

Yesterday's decision coincided with the 43rd wedding anniversary of Roper and his wife Rosemary.

They had been through an anxious nine months since two cyclones in March and April took out big chunks of the bank below a strip of council reserve that abutted their property.

They realised it was only a matter of time before erosion from the huge downpours of future cyclones ended up on their back doorstep.

A benefit for the council is that it would allow the coastal walkway to be reinstated past the waterfront slips. It is currently closed.

Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber stressed the chimney drain method was a research project and there were no guarantees.

''If it is successful, it could be a solution that we can roll out through the district.''

It involved drilling vertical drains down damaged cliff faces, linking up with horizontal drilled drains. Groundwater could then be channelled away from the multiple layers of the cliff.

''The chimney drain method is innovative. While providing the best potential solution, there is no guarantee of success.''

Roper said without the work, their futures were in jeopardy, with the risk of joining other residents who had already abandoned their homes on the peninsula.

He gave a huge pat on the back to consultant engineer Peter Clark who had been involved with landslips throughout the Bay of Plenty for years.

After the two cyclones, the residents realised they had a significant problem and so contacted Clark who then came up with a proposal.

Roper said the three families decided to put their money where their mouths were and made an offer to the council. It gained some traction and then agreement.

''Peter is the hero of the piece.''

The main problem with the cliffs was a million-year-old volcanic layer that once saturated lost its strength and acted more like a lubricant.

''Everything just slips.''

Roper said he felt a sense of relief to the extent that it was not a guaranteed geotechnical solution. The residents sought a decision while the weather was dry so they could get on with the project as soon as possible.

''What worries us is that with climate change these cyclone events will be happening more regularly.''