So far, so good – in Wellington at least. The rest of the big Fish of Maui seems to be taking a pasting. Weather is easing and we may have escaped the really serious stuff, down here, but further north things are seriously concerning – and it is now rather obvious just how vulnerable to storms. I’m particularly concerned about places like Hawkes Bay, which is famously a place of sunshine, fruit, crops, green fields turning brown in the harsh sun, and of course its Art Deco architecture. But right now, it is the four main rivers that are really causing issues.

The Esk River just north of Napier yesterday. My cousin’s house somewhere in the distance

There are three rivers in a bunch – Tukituki, Ngaururoro, Tutaekuri, and then the Esk further north. Before the 1931 earthquake, much of that water came through the massive inland sea that then poured out at the Ahuriri harbour mouth – which all changed after the quake of course. But right now, nature is reverting to its former paths: the entire Hawkes Bay region is really still a river delta. A flood plain, if you will.

Esk River valley ?

And who came up with the idea of building on a flood plain? If you do, this happens !

House floating down stream, apparently

Brief halt for a day’s work, and some new plans below.

Here, zoomed right out, there is a larger view of Hawkes Bay showing the large rivers racing across the plains.

Hawkes Bay rivers

Here is the plan of Napier / Hawkes Bay in its current state with rivers running in green. Pretty much something like this anyway. There were massive river-redirection works undertaken in the 60s I think, where the rivers were gently persuaded to exit out to the East, rather than flowing through the town to the inland sea.

Napier and its series of streams and former riverbeds

Here is the pre-Pakeha plan of the same area, with extent of the former vast inland sea. When it floods, clearly the old forms of water paths may take precedence again.

All the housing under the green “sea” is only just above/below sea level

View from the Esk Valley ? towards the open sea – the sea is the brown stuff on the left, and the land is the equally brown stuff on the right…

And finally, here is a comment from the Eye of the Fish, about the sensible placement of the latest subdivision in Napier.

Te Awa Ave subdivision – sheer stupidity from Napier Council

5.54pm: Residents of a Napier retirement village have been forced to evacuate twice since last night because of the threat of flooding. A spokesperson for Summerset Villages, Logan Mudge, says Summerset Palms in the seaside suburb of Te Awa was cleared last night and again this morning on Civil Defence advice. He says it appears the houses themselves are safe and dry, but the flooding around the village makes it unsafe to stay there. Residents are at evacuation centres or with family and friends. Hardly surprising….