Our Kāpiti Story

The Kāpiti Coast

The Kāpiti Coast coastline is approximately 40 kilometres long. As well as being the location for significant urban development, our beautiful beaches are an important community asset with many unique characteristics and natural qualities.

As such, we are a community particularly vulnerable to a wide range of environmental challenges. Particularly, coastal hazards as our coastline is exposed to sea level rise and coastal erosion over time.

In Kāpiti we have faced some of these hazards in the past and understand some of the concerns. We can build on this knowledge to look ahead to ensure we are prepared to deal with the challenges of coastal hazards in the future, creating more resilient communities.

It is important that we are dealing with social and environmental challenges facing us, including climate change impacts. Adapting to climate change along with intensive development pressures on our coasts will be an ongoing challenge into the future.

Communities which plan for change are more resilient when it needs a response.

Coastal communities around New Zealand, and the world, are becoming increasingly aware of coastal hazards, such as coastal inundation (flooding by the sea) and coastal erosion.

While there is still much uncertainty about how significant these challenges will be and how quickly they will happen, we know there is a crucial need for our community to start planning for our future.

Takutai Kāpiti: Our community-led coastal adaptation project

The Takutai Kāpiti project is a significant community engagement project that aims to encourage our community to become more aware of the impacts of climate change and sea level rise and empower them to take part in developing solutions and pathways for adapting to the coming change. It is expected to deliver recommendations on Coastal adaptation options for Council’s consideration and will help inform a future District Plan to manage coastal issues and the coastal strategy for the district.

The project aims to work in partnership with local iwi to inform, engage and work with our local community on the impacts and challenges of climate change and sea level rise on our district, to take part in developing solutions and ways of adapting to coming change. It will follow the Ministry for the Environment’s Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Guidance for Local Government and take advice and lessons learnt from the Hawkes Bay Coastal Hazards Strategy Plan and Makara Beach Project.

Whakarongotai o te moana, Whakarongotai o te wā
As you listen to the tides of the ocean, so must you listen to the tides of the time

– Te Ātiawa Kaitiakitanga plan

Indigenous knowledge and transparent, evidence-based and accessible science will be fundamental to empowering our community to respond to the changes ahead.

The Takutai Kāpiti project will work to understand coastal hazards risks and the management options for Kāpiti. It will identify the areas that may be affected by various coastal hazards over the long term and the risks to public and private property, cultural sites and areas, recreational use and infrastructure services.

Why a community-led approach?

Join the conversation

Adapting to climate change and sea level rise is an ongoing challenge into the future. The potential impacts will lead to changes in our coastal communities and it is vital you are part of the conversation about a response to those changes.

Communities which plan for change are more resilient. This means working together so everyone is part of the decision-making processes. We will be asking people to volunteer to be actively involved through the Community Assessment Panel process.

How will we do this?

The Takutai Kāpiti project is split into three phases.

Phase One: 

Launching and co-designing the project and community-led process. The 2020 Takutai Kāpiti: Climate Change and Our Coast Summit launched The Takutai Kāpiti project through a conference and community event held on 8 March.

Phase Two: 

The establishment of a Community Assessment Panel consisting of iwi, community and other key stakeholder and agency representatives. The Community Assessment Panel(s) would be provided cultural, technical, social and economic advice to inform that decision making process.

Phase Three: 

Recommendations to Council and implementation planning

What does success look like?

A sustainable, implementable and flexible 100-year coastal adaptation strategy developed for the Kāpiti Coast District. The strategy would be based on the foundations of a risk-based, dynamic adaptive pathways planning approach which is informed by sound and applicable technical expertise. Guided by and with, an informed, meaningfully engaged and empowered iwi and community at the centre.

Why this approach?

The proposed approach is targeted at the development and implementation phases (1–8) of the Ministry for the Environment coastal hazards’ strategy guidance.

The terminology

Community Assessment Panel

The Community Assessment Panel approach involves community members considering the issues and options and making recommendations back to the council decision makers.

The panel will be a working group of local people, representing a cross-section of our community and the formal mechanism through which the wider community input, iwi and technical expertise are used to develop the medium to long-term adaptive solutions.

It is a consistent body of people who will meet regularly to consider the coastal hazards and risks they represent, review a range of adaptation options, assess cultural, social and economic impacts and make recommendations to Council.

The panel will be provided with cultural, technical and scientific advice to support them in considering the wide range of issues.

What are dynamic adaptive pathways?

Dynamic adaptive pathways planning identifies ways forward (pathways) despite uncertainty, whilst remaining responsive to change should this be needed (dynamic). In this approach a range of responses are tested against possible future scenarios.

Climate change and sea level rise effects will vary along the coastline and decision-makers face unavoidable uncertainty.

It is not possible, practical or sensible to wait until uncertainties are removed before starting to consider what options might be preferred by the community.

This approach provides a process for planning and providing solutions amidst that uncertainty.

The process we are proposing to undertake is that recommended internationally and by the Ministry for the Environment. It has been used in recent years in Hawkes Bay and Makara on coastal issues. A range of response options will be explored.

Adaptation not mitigation

Mitigation and adaptation are the two necessary approaches for addressing climate change issues. We need both, however, the focus of the Takutai Kāpiti project is about resilience and adapting to change.

Mitigation is an intervention to reduce emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases. It is about reducing the scale of climate change and requires global level influence

Adaptation is an adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic change or its effects, which moderates harm or raises beneficial opportunities.

It is the approach taken in coastal and low lying areas to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience on a local scale. The aim is to build resilience so the impact is less.

How we adapt to change and the impacts of sea level rise is our opportunity to help prepare future generations.

To understand the success and effectiveness of adaptation actions there needs to be a joint understanding between people within communities, local authorities and other key stakeholders. Adaptation is a shared responsibility and partnerships are critical.

– Coastal Adaptation to Climate Change: Pathways to Change. Niwa 2011