Coastal Adaptation Framework

Have your say on the Council's flexible proposed approach for how we will work with communities to develop adaptation pathways that respond to coastal hazards.

Project status: Closed for feedback
Open for feedback: 8 October 2021 to 6 December 2021

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Project update - consultation has now closed 

On Thursday 7 April there is a report to the Council(external link) seeking approval of the Coastal Adaptation Framework. The report includes a consultation analysis which shows how feedback on the Framework has been considered.

 As a city, Ōtautahi Christchurch is more exposed to coastal hazards than either Auckland or Wellington. We have thousands of houses, roads and water pipes located along our coastlines, estuaries and rivers. But if our city knows how to deal with anything, it’s change. And we know from our experiences over the past decade that we need to plan for the unexpected.  So while we may have many challenges ahead, we also have some real opportunities.

Adaptation planning is about preparing now, so that we are ready for what may happen in the future.  It involves communities, rūnanga and Council getting together to work out how the hazards are likely to impact communities, what options and adaption pathways are best for addressing these hazards, and how and when we need to act. It’s like having a map for a planned road trip, with different route options that we can take depending on the conditions we experience along the way. 

Given the extent of our district’s exposure to coastal hazards, we’re staggering our approach to adaptation planning. We’re focussing first on areas where coastal hazards will arise in the short term – the next 30 years. However, we want to make sure we have clear processes in place now, so we can work equitably with all of our communities, regardless of when or where the adaptation planning takes place.

We also want to approach adaptation planning with clarity about what is on the table and what is not, so everyone is clear and we avoid unintentionally misleading or disappointing people. Council is responsible primarily for the assets and infrastructure it manages on behalf of communities, and this is the priority for adaptation planning and use of public funds.

The Coastal Adaptation Framework is a starting point for the work by the Council and communities to create adaptive pathways that will allow us to plan for, and respond to, coastal hazard risks now and in the future. 

The Framework sets out our initial approach to:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Proposed principles to guide decision-making
  • A proposed flexible process for engagement and decision-making

Read the Coastal Adaptation Framework [PDF, 1.7 MB]

Roles and responsibilities

While the Council, on behalf of the community, is responsible with Environment Canterbury for managing risks posed by coastal hazards and is responsible for managing the risk to Council owned assets and income, the Council does not have an explicit legal obligation to protect privately owned assets from coastal hazards.

Private asset owners (individuals, organisations, businesses, and iwi who own built structures on private land) are responsible for managing risks to their assets and incomes.  The private asset owner’s role is to:

  • Be aware of the risks and their responsibility for managing them.
  • Comply with regulations that apply to their assets and activities.
  • Take steps to understand the magnitude and nature of the specific risks to their assets and activities.
  • Develop and implement strategies and actions to manage these risks.

The Council’s role is to:

  • Prepare and implement civil defence and emergency management plans.
  • Develop and implement plans, policies and regulations for the identification and management of coastal hazards.
  • Facilitate the building of resilience and adaptive capacity within communities including providing information about known risks posed by coastal hazard.
  • Where appropriate, work in partnership with communities to identify and manage the risks posed by coastal hazards, and their impacts.


Draft Coastal Adaptation Planning Principles

Adaptation planning will take place in different Adaptation Areas at different times.  To encourage an equitable approach across all communities, we want to establish some clear principles now, to help guide our adaptation planning programme.

We have come up with the following draft principles with input from our partners Papatipu Rūnanga and Environment Canterbury:

Uphold te Tiriti o Waitangi

We will uphold the principles of the Treaty, including the principles of partnership and the active protection of Ngāi Tahu interests in land and water.  This commitment includes recognising rangatiratanga and the duty to actively engage with mana whenua.

Develop local plans for local communities and environments

Adaptation planning will respond to the scale of the risks and vulnerabilities of each Adaptation Area and its assets.  It will reflect local values, and other considerations that may exacerbate community vulnerabilities.  Adaptation planning may produce different results in each place – there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution or timeline for addressing coastal hazards.

Focus on public assets that contribute to the health, safety and wellbeing of communities

While the adaptation planning process will consider communities as a whole and will identify private assets at risk of coastal hazards, Council’s resources (including public funds) will primarily be used to manage risks to public assets that contribute to the health, safety and wellbeing of communities.  Public assets may include infrastructure systems such as water pipes and roads, facilities such as libraries, pools and parks, and services such as waste collection.

Privately owned assets that directly contribute to the health, safety and wellbeing of communities may also be a focus for adaptation planning (but not necessarily public funding) if they provide critical community infrastructure.  These assets may for example include: marae, urupa, churches, surf lifesaving services, and buildings and/or land used for civil defence and emergency services.  This does not include privately owned recreation facilities or entertainment and hospitality venues.

Private asset owners are responsible for managing risks to their assets and incomes.  Any private benefits from Council funded adaptation should be indirect or incidental.

Be flexible and responsive

Adaptation planning acknowledges that, while the sea is rising, there is uncertainty around when and how different areas will be impacted.  This means we need to consider and accommodate a wide range of scenarios and potential options.  We need to be responsive to future opportunities, technologies, funding sources and changes resulting from the Government’s reform of the resource management system.

Recognise inter-generational equity issues

We will take a long-term view to ensure adaptation planning is sustainable, provides benefits to current and future generations, and is not driven by short-term decisions on cost savings or avoiding loss.  We will prioritise options and pathways that minimise the burden on future generations and maximise inter-generational equity.  Where appropriate, this may mean action is needed now, to avoid shifting the financial burden of implementing adaptation pathways on to future generations.  

Prioritise natural and nature-based options

We will identify and prioritise natural and nature-based options wherever feasible, in preference to any hard protection options.  This is in line with the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 which recognises that natural options provide additional benefits including protecting and enhancing the natural environment and taonga, and maintaining and creating recreational assets.  Examples of natural and nature-based adaptation options can be found in the Catalogue of Coastal Hazard Adaptation Options.

Keep managed retreat on the table

We will consider all options for managing the risks posed by coastal hazards for communities, including managed retreat.  This is in in line with the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010.  While managed retreat is a challenging adaptation option in terms of implementation, and social and economic impacts, it offers a long-term sustainable option that can remove the risk of coastal hazards, allowing natural coastal processes to unfold.  It can also be used to create natural protection buffers for other at-risk assets.

Different managed retreat techniques can be found in the Catalogue of Coastal Hazard Adaptation Options.

Our approach to adaptation planning

To encourage an equitable process that results in adaptation plans that are supported, where possible, by both residents and the Council, we are initially proposing to follow an approach that will include engagement with mana whenua and communities, technical work by the Specialist and Technical Advisory Group (the STAG), and a recommendation from the Coastal Panel for Council decision on adaptation pathways. 

We estimate that to get through this process, it will take approximately 12 to 18 months.  Once we have completed planning in one Adaptation Area, we will move onto the next Adaptation Area. 

The Coastal Panel is a diverse group of community and rūnanga representatives from each Adaptation Area.  Some city-wide representation will also be included as well as youth voices. There is one Coastal Panel per Adaptation Area. The role of the Coastal Panel is to provide informed recommendations to Council for adaptation plans that allow communities within the Adaptation Area that are impacted by coastal hazards, to respond to changes over time.

The Specialist and Technical Advisory Group (STAG) is a specialist and technical forum that assists the Council and Coastal Panel with the creation of adaptation pathways. Members are experts in their fields from across a number of agencies, and are able to provide information, advice and guidance to support Coastal Panel decision-making.

Read more detail about the engagement and decision-making process in the Coastal Adaptation Framework [PDF, 1.7 MB]

Come and talk to us

Drop in any time to discuss the Coastal Adaptation Framework with the Project Team, and ask any questions you might have. We'll also have staff at these sessions to answer your questions on the Coastal Hazards Assessment, and the Coastal Hazards Plan Change

Monday 18 October 2021 — any time between 2.30pm and 6.30pm 

  • Governors Bay Community Centre, 1 Cresswell Avenue, Governors Bay

Thursday 21 October 2021 — any time between 2.30pm and 6.30pm 

  • North New Brighton Community Centre, 93 Marine Parade, New Brighton

Friday 22 October — any time between 2.30pm and 6.30pm 

  • South New Brighton Community Hall, 74 Beatty Street, South New Brighton

Tuesday 26 October 2021 — any time between 2.30pm and 6.30pm 

  • Parklands Recreation Centre, 75 Queenspark Drive, Parklands

Monday 1 November 2021 —any time between 2.30pm and 6.30pm 

  • Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre, 14 Wakefield Ave, Sumner

Tuesday 2 November — any time between 2.30pm and 6.30pm 

  • Woolston Community Library, 689 Ferry Road, Woolston

Wednesday 3 November — any time between 2.30pm and 6.00pm 

  • Gaiety Hall, 104 Rue Jolie, Akaroa

Please note, these sessions may need to be postponed or cancelled if COVID alert levels change. 

Can't make these drop-in sessions? If there is a community meeting you would like us to attend, please let us know

The Coastal Hazards Adaptation Planning programme is about reducing risks to existing land use activities and development. Managing risks to new development, changes of use and subdivision proposed in the future will be considered through a Coastal Hazards Plan Change. 

You can also have your say on the Coastal Hazards Plan Change Issues and Options Discussion Document(external link) which looks at options for how we might manage coastal hazard risks for future development, redevelopment and changes in land uses. 


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Who to contact

Katy McRae,
Engagement Manager

How the decision is made

  • Closed for feedback

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