The $107 million Southern Pipeline is leaking human waste at Matapihi, a resident says.

Tio Faulkner said a leak was noticed on Matapihi Rd last night near Te Kura O Matapihi.

Tauranga City Council staff were at the scene, he said.

Faulkner, who protested plans to lay the Southern Pipeline through Matapihi, said the "major leak" was an "engineering disaster".

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"After so many assurances by the council that it had been tested, that it was not going to leak, it has a leak after less than a year."

Contractors at the site of a reported leak in the city's Southern Pipeline. Photo / Samantha Motion
Contractors at the site of a reported leak in the city's Southern Pipeline. Photo / Samantha Motion

He said the leak was not near the harbour but it was near land used for kiwifruit.

A reporter at the scene said the incident was a sewage leak at the Southern Pipeline.

Contractors referred the Bay of Plenty Times to the Tauranga City Council for comment.

The incident is directly across from Te Kura O Matapihi.

Principal Tui Rolleston said she was first alerted to it about 8pm last night.

Her daughter arrived home from netball and said there was a bad smell and wet ground near the kura.

"She said oh my god it stinks!"

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Te Kura O Matapihi principal Tui Rolleston. Photo / Samantha Motion
Te Kura O Matapihi principal Tui Rolleston. Photo / Samantha Motion

Rolleston said she called the council to alert them. When she arrived for work the incident had been contained to the side of the road opposite the school.

She said the council assured her there was no health or safety risk to the students.

While it was the first leak since the pipeline became operational, it was not the first issue.

A vent opposite the school regularly expelled a "foul odour", she said

Teachers with classrooms on that side of the school complained and the school kept students off the fields when it was bad.

Garry Holloway, a Matapihi resident who acts as a liasion between the community and the council regarding the pipeline, said the odour issues had been a problem up until about a month ago.

That's when the council installed a new odour filter on the vent across from the school.

"That fixed it."

Chris Stokes, a kaitiaki for the area with Ngāti Kuku hapu, said a leak near the school was the "worst case scenario".

It was the kind of incident people feared when they fought the pipeline plan, he said.

The sewerage line was needed, however, so the council needed to ensure something like this would not happen again.

Nic Johansson, general manager infrastructure told the Bay of Plenty Times the sewage leak near Matapihi School was reported about 8pm last night.

The cause of the leak was an air release valve that failed near the odour green dome.

He said repairs were completed at 9.30am and the pipeline is fully functional again using another air valve. Staff were now checking all air valves along the pipeline again.

"Council contractors were onsite throughout the night to ensure the leak was contained. Including a sucker truck in case of any further leaks. Contractors have cleaned and disinfected the area," Johansson said.

"Council staff have been keeping the community informed. We have apologised to the community and thanked our contractors who worked through the night and are still on site this morning."

The council did not confirm how much sewage had leaked so far, nor did it say whether residents were asked to leave their properties.

The pipeline project was completed earlier this year, and Tauranga City Council held a celebration of the $107m, 15-year project just last month.

In 2016, protestors picket across a paper road beside 177 Matapihi Rd to prevent Tauranga City Council laying the Southern Pipeline from Matapihi Rd to SH29. Photo / File
In 2016, protestors picket across a paper road beside 177 Matapihi Rd to prevent Tauranga City Council laying the Southern Pipeline from Matapihi Rd to SH29. Photo / File

No one from the kura could be reached this morning.

Contractors appearing to be cleaning up the area could be seen at the site this morning.

A berm area near the school was cordoned off by tape and road cones.

Tauranga City Council are yet to respond to media queries.

In July 2018, cranes line up to lay steel pipe for Southern Pipeline. Photo / File
In July 2018, cranes line up to lay steel pipe for Southern Pipeline. Photo / File

- More to come.