Lives and livelihoods are on the line in Tolaga Bay after the devastation of unwanted logs carried by floodwaters.

Locals say recent flooding was much worse because of the volume and size of the forestry slash.

With the rejected logs came thick layers of silt, causing havoc for farmers such as Mike Parker who's been forced to remove all his stock.

He said, after surveying the mess left by the flooding this week, he believed forestry companies were poor corporate citizens.


"With our farming practises we contain rubbish and by-products," Parker said.

"We really feel as farmers – urbanites and ruralites – that such a big industry player should contain what they are doing.

"They tell us the skid sites are contained but there is still other slash coming out of the hills, wrecking bridges and the fences are flattened.

"It's traumatising people quite badly."

Adding insult to injury was continued logging, with truck drivers using routes which avoided the valleys chocked with logs and mud.

"The logs are still coming out – business as usual – while we are all left standing in the mud trying to decide what to do next."

Vernon Gough knew his land was prone to flood, which is why his home sits high off the ground.

But when thousands of logs dammed a nearby bridge, he said they were lucky their house was not swept away.


"It just jammed and went either side and, of course, it hits our property," he said.

"The size of the logs... we are lucky they didn't knock down the supports and tip us over. It was up three or four feet underneath us, just raging."

With lives on the line, he said it was time for forest owners to "wake up" over logging practices.

Upstream, a house was almost covered with logs, a woolshed was swept away and a family was rescued by helicopter from their roof.

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon said the Tolaga Bay community showed true spirit during recent flooding.

He said a new regime for the forestry sector was in place but many forests were planted before a riparian strip was mandatory.

He blamed reject logs at skid sites – hillside processing areas – as being responsible for the majority of large logs washed away.

East Coast hills were prone to erosion, Foon said, with pasture failing to hold onto the soil, so forestry was seen as a solution.

But the land was vulnerable when clear felled and, should more rain hit the currently soggy hills, there was a chance the slopes could again dissolve into a torrent of logs.

Many found their way to Tolaga Bay Beach, where they were met with a scowl from Clyde Keelan-Hooper.

"Saturday, this beach was beautiful, right along," he said.

"And now look at it.

"Forestry people, they've got to do something about stopping this stuff from coming down."

The chairman of Eastland Wood Council, which spoke on behalf of the Wairoa and Gisborne forestry sector, declined to be interviewed on the topic of responsibility for forestry slash.

East Coast harvest volumes were predicted to double in the next five years.

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