Climate Change Minister James Shaw says there has been "some pretty dumb" coastal development in the face of rising sea levels, which could be at risk of damage, along with billions of dollars of infrastructure such as coastal airports, roads and rail.

And he is not closing the door on Government compensation for those affected by rising seas - but that issue will be looked more seriously next year.

On Friday Shaw will release a report on coastal hazards and sea-level rises, information he says the previous Government sat on for months and should have released.

He said councils could have used that information to help deciding consents for coastal developments, instead of using out-of-date information.


"The last Government could have released that information to councils in order to make it easier for them to factor in these kinds of decisions. They didn't, so you're getting some pretty dumb decisions being made."

A report by Newsroom, published today, revealed that the Thames-Coromandel District Council approved 73 new apartments on an empty coastal section, using a flooding assessment from 2001.

It was based on a 0.49m sea-level rise, rather than the Government's guide of a 1m sea level rise for existing neighbourhoods, or 1.9m for other developments in built-up areas.

In 2015 the Thames-Coromandel District Council approved a subdivision of 167 coastal sections, after rejecting expert advice from Waikato Regional Council to consider a 2m-rise in sea levels.

Shaw said the Government should be more active in informing local councils.

"I absolutely think that central Government can do a lot more to support local authorities around this kind of issue. There are a lot of developments already happening that ought to be factoring in sea-level rises."

Shaw said along with tens of thousands of homes, billions of dollars of infrastructure is also at risk from rising seas including airports, coastal roads and rail, and farms.

"All of which fall into the risk zone. I think we've got to take a good look at that. Next year, adaptation is going to be a significant part of this Government's work programme on climate change."


Asked about the issue of Government compensation, Shaw said: "It is certainly one of the things we need to take a good, hard look at next year."

His comments follow the former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright's comments last year on the risk of rising seas.

"I think it is inevitable people will ask for compensation from both local and central government as this starts to creep up," Wright said.

She released a report in November 2015 that found at least 9000 New Zealand homes were lying less than 0.5m above spring high tides.

Cities with large areas that are particularly low-lying include Napier, Lower Hutt, Christchurch, and Dunedin.