Locals furious after tsunami of wood washes up on Tolaga Bay again

A tsunami of wood has once again washed up on Tolaga Bay following this weekend's heavy rain.

The small town is about 45 minutes north of Gisborne and is downstream from several large forestry operations.

Tolaga Bay has been submerged again - not underwater, but under logs. On the beach there is hardly any sand in sight. For locals it's a case of here we go again.

In 2018 millions of dollars worth of damage was caused by wood washed down and now it's back.

"Terrible, horrific really. And it was aggravating because it's happened before, and it will happen again," Tolaga Bay resident Jeremy Murphy tells Newshub.

It's known as slash - basically forestry's leftovers swept downriver when there's heavy rain.

Slips have closed surrounding roads, making access hard for clean-up crews. But before the rain even stopped the arduous process had already started.

Logging companies say they've changed their practices and this is just the last of the wood from 2018 being flushed out. Even still, they'll help.

"Absolute commitment we will clean up that beach no problem at all," Aratu Forests CEO Ian Brown says.

But they also admit they can't prevent a repeat.

"It's never going to go away completely, I think it's part of Tolaga Bay where there is debris that comes out from time to time," Brown says.

So Toha, an environmental impact measurement and investment platform, is trying to encourage pine alternatives.

"Until we change our land-use practices until we move away from monocultural pine plantations, this is going to be a problem for us," Toha co-founder Shaun Hendy says.

"There are economic uses of our native woods, and we could be making much more use of that in New Zealand."

Murphy documented Saturday's damage. He says it's hurting his family and ruining his community.

"You know [we can't] take our kids waterskiing on the river, or just go out and enjoy the sea or sit on the beach, you know. All of that stuff, tourism, everything, it's ruined," he says.

One simple request from Tolaga Bay: give us our beach back.