The next step to make Hawke's Bay's coastline resilient and protect the communities who live along it from an expected 1.5m sea-level rise in the next century was taken today.
After more than a year of hard work, the Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazard Strategy 2120 joint committee endorsed a report which outlines preferred solutions for nine coastal areas in Hawke's Bay.
It also agreed to recommend three Hawke's Bay councils do the same and begin implementing the strategy.
Committee chair Peter Beaven told the meeting global warming and its effects were a "ticking time bomb" - with an unknown amount of time before it brought higher sea levels, more storms, and affected private property and public assets in the region.
"The need for us to develop resilience for our coastal communities is an absolute imperative for us. To do nothing would be irresponsible."
The report endorsed yesterday was the culmination of "significant" work from two coastal hazard assessment panels.
The northern panel developed actions for coastal areas north of Napier - Ahuriri, Pandora, Westshore, Bay View and Whirinaki, while the southern panel looked at Clifton, Te Awanga, Haumoana, and Clive.
Panel representatives Craig Daly (northern) and Keith Newman (southern) told the meeting how an "adaptive" pathway for each area had been developed.
Each path was split into three terms - short (20 years), medium (20-50 years) and long (50-100 years).
For each term, a course of action was chosen from nine treatments against erosion and indundation effects. Panels also had to consider whether action taken in one area was likely to affect nearby spots. Some areas had additional recommendations.
In most cases the status quo, renourishment or defence structures in the short to medium term was the chosen option.
For the southern areas of Clifton, Haumoana, and Clive/East Clive a managed retreat was the long-term solution. It has previously been noted this is not a preferred option because it is expensive, and some northern areas in particular have nowhere to retreat to.
A large audience attended the meeting, including many volunteers who gave their time over the past year - mana whenua, coastal community representatives and business interests.
They applauded when the committee unanimously recommended the Napier City, Hastings District and Hawke's Bay Regional Councils endorse and adopt the recommendations and begin stage four (implementation) of the strategy.
Committee member Tania Hopmans abstained. She had raised concerns about the wording of the recommendation in light of wider legislative framework.
Mr Newman noted the eyes of the country were on the region, as "how we respond to this opportunity to protect and value our coastal edge will say a lot about us as a region".
Coastal areas made Hawke's Bay an attractive place to live and visit, and he urged councils to not put this into the "too-hard basket" because not taking urgent action would have other social and infrastructural consequences.
"The challenge has always been who's going to pay. What's proposed here is leading edge, and we need to get the funding model right so homeowners and businesses aren't rated off their property."
It has been found - in a Tonkin and Taylor report - the recommendations could cost anywhere between $131 million and $286m over the next 100 years.That report said the potential economic loss from coastal hazards could potentially run into the hundreds of millions - not including the social, or cultural losses.
It has not been decided how costs will be divided, but most is expected to come from Hastings and Napier ratepayers.
The final strategy report was signed by all but one panel member, for unknown reasons.