Mapua and Ruby Bay

Land use planning for multiple issues and natural hazards: Mapua and Ruby Bay


The areas of Mapua and Ruby Bay in the Tasman region have an array of complex planning and natural hazard issues. They are subject to coastal inundation and erosion as well as increased risk from freshwater flooding associated with climate change. The area has projected growth and aspirations for development. Information about the hazards has changed since planning provisions were made (e.g., new MfE sea level rise guidelines) and these are no longer regarded as adequate.

Decisions are needed regarding the extent of the hazard area, future urban growth, management of risk for existing properties, maintenance of existing public protection works and provision of services (e.g., water, wastewater and storm water).

The project began in 2004 and a plan change is nearing completion. It is at appeal stage with three of four appeals resolved.

Partners, and key personnel

  • Tasman District Council (TDC), and the Mapua and districts Community Association.
  • Landowners (includes some prospective developers).
  • Residents and wider community stakeholders concerned about issues such as coastal access, and archaeological site protection.
  • A joint CRI (GNS Science, NIWA, AGResearch) project conducted a survey and provided good background information on Mapua/Ruby Bay communities (e.g. climate change attitudes, trusted sources of information, expectations of local government, acceptable costs for remedial activity).
  • Planning consultant (Anna Crosbie) – structure plan and Section 32 analysis.
  • Technical modelling by Opus and MWH.
Overall approach
  • A workshop was held with Councillors to present up to date projections of natural hazard risk; costs associated with maintaining public protection works; and options for Council’s response in a worst case scenario. LIDAR contour data was used to develop presentation materials. The TDC CEO was involved and provided useful input. This was done early in the project, and before engagement with the public.
  • Public engagement began with discussion documents, assessing public response to the issues.
  • TDC staff attended monthly Community Association meetings. These meetings were productive although at times heated. They could also be dominated by particular viewpoints.
  • Open days were held and were opportunities for those who preferred to discuss issues one on one with staff.
  • Feedback was extensive (this is an articulate community) and incorporated in a draft structure plan, alongside TDC’s own risk analysis and work on different options. The structure plan laid out possible future areas for land use, and options for growth–– presenting a clear vision without the complexity of rules It was released in an attractive easy to read booklet.
  • The ideas in the structure plan were later refined and incorporated in a draft plan change.
  • To date the project has raised awareness and created a vision for managing growth and natural hazard risk in the area. Some decisions have been made about protection works (not a prohibited activity). The work is on-going.
Key points about the approach
  • Gaining support from political representatives: holding the coastal hazard workshop with Councillors (with the CEO support) and ensuring the issues were well understood and supported before starting public engagement was critical to the project.
  • Structure plan: this was a very useful way of informally presenting the concepts of a risk management based land use strategy; it was a non-threatening precursor to a formal plan change. The first publication was a pamphlet that was too simple and not so successful.
  • Providing options for public input: there were strong emotions at the Community Association meetings, and while it was useful to have a forum where these could be expressed, particular views can dominate and it was important that there were alternative options for public engagement.
  • The public survey conducted through the joint CRI project was helpful because it was one step removed from TDC and offered another line of enquiry into public perceptions and views.
  • Documenting the options that TDC developed and other people suggested for section32 analysis.
  • LIDAR provided good clear mapping outputs that supported communications.
  • Maintaining internal communication – It was important that all departments of council were aware of the strategy around the plan change development to avoid contradictory or undermining activity.

Things to consider

  • Mapua/Ruby Bay plan change has been a slow process. New information about natural hazard risk can be distressing and people need time to absorb it, develop an understanding of what it means to them and consider their own personal strategies.
  • The process revealed people had different levels of understanding about the natural hazard risk and at times unrealistic expectations about the ease of providing mitigation The approach to managing conflict was to slow down and be patient with people.
  • This is a resource intensive process and may not be possible or suitable for all coastal communities.
  • It is harder to quantify risk with multiple hazards – people dispute they will happen at same time.
When to use this approach? Good approach for a relatively discrete community with range of issues which includes natural hazards.

More Information

Environment and Planning department – Tasman District Council

Mapua and Ruby Bay development Proposed Plan Change 22

Stewart, C.; Becker, J.S.; Blackett, P.; Coomer, M.A.; Reese, S.; Hume, T. 2010 Coastal residents' views on climate change. p. 55 In: Stewart, C. (ed.) 4th Australasian HazardsManagement Conference : from warnings to effective response and recovery, Te Papa,Wellington, New Zealand, 11-12 August 2010. GNS Science miscellaneous series 33