Demolisher to take out neighbours home before his own as Port Waikato battles coastal erosion

Houses and community buildings in Port Waikato are being sacrificed as the town grapples with the effects of coastal erosion.

The shoreline is moving inland at a dramatic rate, making its unpredictability difficult to form a plan that will please everyone.

For demolition company owner Wayne Green, this job is a little too close for comfort - he lives right next door.

"It's hit home. The first house on the street to be demolished," he told Newshub.

Green and his wife Robyn's property is next on the list as the shoreline gradually comes closer and closer to the couple's doorstep.

"We're definitely part of the tip of the iceberg here. It's not just going to affect us if it keeps continuing," Robyn Green said.

"Every time we come it's a different thing that we find and see... rocks that we've never seen on the beach start surfacing. It's ever-changing."

Port Waikato's coastline has been eroding at a rate of roughly five metres per year since 2012.

"This is a very dynamic coastline here on the west coast and the amount of wave energy generated is significant," Waikato District Council Projects and Innovation manager, Kurt Abbot, told Newshub.

While coastal erosion is a totally natural and fluctuating phenomenon, coastal scientist Jim Dahm says Port Waikato's erosion is some of the most difficult nationwide.

"The issue at Port Waikato is we have a subdivision in the way of that shoreline movement and in terms of the seriousness of that particular problem, it's up there with anything we've got currently in New Zealand," Dahm explained.

So far, the Waikato District Council's plan has been what's called a 'managed retreat' - moving inland anything that can be.

The Sunset Beach car park has been left to the elements and the 56-year-old community centre was demolished in October.

"It has been quite dramatic here. And it happened a lot faster than anyone expected," Abbott said.

Until recently, the retreat only covered public assets - not private property. 

The council is working out how to include houses in the plan - but any decision would be too late for the Greens.

"Unfortunately our house can't be relocated because it's a concrete base," Wayne Green explained.

The council knows it's an emotional issue for the town. 

Dahm says the erosion's unpredictability will make it difficult to form a plan that everyone will be happy with.

"You're dealing with quite severe erosion and quite high energy situations, the playoff between high-value property and high-value recreational beaches," he said.

The public wants sandbags and seawalls, but they will likely require the aid of the central Government.

"Unfortunately here on this coast, those measures for protection are significant, they'll cost significant amounts of money as well," Abbott said.

The Greens have bought themselves some time and a Plan B, using their neighbours' land to build a new, relocatable house further inland.

Like the council, they're hoping for the best - while preparing for the worst. 

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