St Clair seawall and beach access

### ODT Online Mon, 28 Nov 2011
Future of damaged beach ramp to be assessed
By David Loughrey
A section of a St Clair beach ramp in Dunedin might soon be removed, after it broke away and fell on to rocks below. The problem is a continuation of damage that occurred about six weeks ago, when heavy seas hit the ramp so hard the concrete cracked, and steel reinforcing was exposed.
Read more + Images

ODT Video: Big surf at St Clair

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Politics, Project management, Site, Urban design

54 responses to “St Clair seawall and beach access

  1. Elizabeth

    See previous comments on this topic at STS response.

  2. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Wed, 30 Nov 2011
    Section of ramp to go
    By David Loughrey
    The collapsed section of the St Clair beach seawall ramp, and the rest of the structure below that point, will be broken up and removed, it was confirmed yesterday.
    Read more

    • Elizabeth

      Mr Chittock’s development companies White Island Investments, White Island Properties and St Clair Village Hotels, were placed in the hands of the receivers of collapsed South Canterbury Finance in August, when they exercised a right to force the companies into receivership over a $1.5 million debt.

      ### ODT Online Wed, 7 Dec 2011
      Final St Clair property sold amid mounting debts
      By Simon Hartley
      Mounting debts beyond $4.8 million have been revealed in the receivers’ first reports into the three failed development companies of St Clair builder and developer Stephen Chittock. This week saw the final property sale in a tranche of five of Mr Chittock’s beachside properties within the Esplanade block – a deal worth more than $1.3 million to buy the seven-unit Esplanade Motels and Apartments complex.
      Read more

      • ### ODT Online Tue, 4 Jun 2013
        Plans afoot for Esplanade
        By Simon Hartley
        Millions of dollars could be invested in new projects at St Clair’s Esplanade block during the next six months, including a long-running proposal for a three-storey commercial building, valued at more than $2 million. Aside from the commercial building plans, the former Esplanade restaurant is still under redevelopment and a major extension is being considered at neighbouring Neptuno Restaurant.
        For the past 10 days large sinkholes in the Esplanade have grabbed public attention and sparked concern among local businesses, and the Dunedin City Council faces high rebuilding costs.
        Christchurch-based restaurateur and developer Murray Macarthy has been proposing a commercial building on the only clear section within the Esplanade block for more than decade. When contacted recently about the section, he said final architectural plans had been drawn up and he hoped to be in a position to apply for building permits shortly.
        Read more

        • ### ODT Online Tue, 9 Jul 2013
          Restaurant completely refurbished
          By Simon Hartley
          The reopening of St Clair’s Esplanade Restaurant has been postponed until next month, while refurbishment designs are still being worked on for the nearby Neptuno Restaurant. The Esplanade Restaurant redevelopment began in March and work has moved on from earthquake-proofing and major structural work to fitting-out, building lessee Katrina Toovey said when contacted. The opening date has shifted from May to August. She said aspects of work on the Hydro building, understood to be nearly 100 years old, had taken longer than anticipated but that all the earthquake-proofing was done and fitting out of the restaurant was under way, with a new pizza oven recently installed. ”It’s a very old building. But it’s great that we will have a fully restored historical building to move into,” Ms Toovey said. The entire building, which hosts a ground-floor florist’s and apartments upstairs for short-term accommodation, has been restored.
          Read more

        • ### ODT Online Sat, 19 Oct 2013
          Esplanade apartments plan draws interest
          By Simon Hartley
          A proposal for an up to $7 million apartment block on the seaward side of St Clair Esplanade, selling apartments off the plan, has sparked a high level of interest.
          In mid-August, former Dunedin couple Rebecca Tohill and Grant Henderson, co-directors of Wellington-based St Clair Esplanade Ltd, announced they were seeking ”expressions of interest” for their proposed Esplanade development, which at present has a single storey brick house on it.
          Read more

          Proposal for 6 The Esplanade [Herriot and Melhuish Architecture]The architect’s impression of a proposed St Clair apartment block at 6 The Esplanade. Image by Herriot and Melhuish Architecture.
          [via ODT]

        • ### ODT Online on Thu, 27 Mar 2014
          $3.5m Esplanade development set to go
          By Simon Hartley
          A $3.5 million development, comprising two restaurants, a bakery, offices and four apartments in two separate buildings, is proposed for Dunedin’s St Clair Esplanade. The proposal was announced yesterday by restaurateur Murray Macarthy. […] Both buildings were designed by Dunedin architect Mason and Wales. Mr Macarthy said Mason and Wales had had a ”favourable” initial council response, and expected to file building permit applications within weeks.
          Read more

  3. Anonymous

    New owner goes by the initials “MM”

  4. Peter

    Anonymous. Does ‘MM’ work for the DCC?! They seem to like buying into someone else’s debt problems to make it their own.

    • Elizabeth

      “The value of the fraud alleged to have been committed exceeds anything in the history of white-collar crime in New Zealand, and the time we have taken to complete this matter is a reflection of that scale.” -Adam Feeley, SFO

      ### ODT Online Wed, 7 Dec 2011
      Charges laid over SCF deals
      By Jamie Gray
      The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has laid charges following its investigation into South Canterbury Finance. [SFO director Adam] Feeley said that, following a 14-month investigation into a variety of transactions involving the failed finance company, the SFO had laid 21 charges against five individuals involved with the company’s affairs. The SFO did not name the people involved because of possible issues regarding name suppression.
      Read more

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    Calvin with excellent sense, as usual:
    Why is basic physics – like about forces acting on shapes ‘n’ stuff – missing from engineering contractors’ education? Where did it go, when, and who decided it wasn’t necessary any more? Can’t blame Unit Standards for that :)

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Sat, 21 Jan 2012
      Beach ramp, stairs may be demolished
      By Chris Morris
      A $250,000 plan to fix battered pieces of the St Clair sea wall ramp and stairs has been unveiled, as the Dunedin City Council confirmed concerns were raised when the beach access walkways were built.

      A staff report to be considered at next week’s council budget meetings said the sea wall had failed to gain a code of compliance certificate – confirming it met the requirements of the Building Act – when finished in 2004.

      Read more

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Tue, 6 Mar 2012
      $346,000 later, Esplanade rails almost ready
      By Ellie Constantine
      Zealsteel employees replaced barrier panels on the St Clair sea wall’s balustrade, in Dunedin yesterday. Refurbishing work on the handrail is coming to an end. Dunedin City Council projects engineer Evan Matheson said $346,000 was spent upgrading 465m of rail along the Esplanade. Mr Matheson said the project was expected to be completed by the end of the month.
      Read more

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Wed, 1 Aug 2012
        DCC optimistic of sea wall deal with company
        By Debbie Porteous
        Dunedin City Council staff are to meet the company it believes responsible for a failed ramp and steps on the sea wall at St Clair, optimistic a settlement can be negotiated this month. Any resolution is also expected to include a decision on new access to the beach.
        Read more

  6. Calvin Oaten

    H O’T, “Where did it go, when, and who decided it wasn’t necessary any more?” It went the day Jim Harland decided to dismantle what was left of the DCC Engineers’ Dept. First, DCHL took away most of the work and JH sold the rest off to Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) for what he described as a financially neutral deal. MWH were contracted as consultants and ostensibly things carried on as before. Except, we lost control of our expertise, thus opening the way for escalating consultant costs and blind acceptance of recommendations proffered. Costs and designs were unable to be effectively analysed in house, so we the city were/are at the mercy of our advisors, hence the St Clair Wall debacle, the stadium, Town Hall upgrade, the OSM and watch this space for the Tahuna Sewage treatment upgrade. All, or most of this happened in the Turner/Chin council tenures, and still continues today. The costs have been a constantly escalating problem for all works and services provided in this city with independent contractors waxing fat at our expense. We must remember, that first and foremost, consultants are there for profit, the design commissions are done for fees on an hourly basis. A free hand there. The overseeing of projects are usually a fee based on the capital value of that project, hence the more expensive it is the more the reward. Gold plating of specifications can be a result, or a price negotiated, agreed, then cost savings offered, the client is impressed and the result is a sub-standard finished job. The St Clair Wall is a classic example. So thank Jim Harland and his incompetent minions for that, and lots more to boot. In a word, the city is taken for a ride and we only have to look at the ever increasing costs for shrinking quality services to see that. Watch this space for the stadium to bring the city to its knees over the next few years.

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Ooh, I spy some nice little earners. Pity other people spied them first.

  8. Hype O'Thermia

    Failed compliance – OK, so what happens if it’s your conservatory? Everyone pretends there’s nothing wrong? They let you away with keeping the roof that directs rain-water onto the neighbours’ section? You let the builder away without even calling Fair Go? WHY DOESN’T IT MATTER? Why are there no consequences for anyone re the sea wall? Well – none except we ratepayers get to pay and pay and pay to get it done inadequately again and again, as many times as it takes, right?

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Thu, 26 Jan 2012
      Support for legal action over sea wall
      By Chris Morris
      A fight for compensation by the Dunedin City Council over flaws in the design of the St Clair sea wall could end up as a courtroom battle. Councillors at yesterday’s council pre-draft budget meetings agreed to support initiating legal action against the company responsible for the project’s flawed design. That move came despite a council staff report to yesterday’s meeting warning the chances of a successful outcome from any legal action were “uncertain at best”, and recommending staff focus instead on reaching a negotiated settlement.
      Read more

  9. Calvin Oaten

    Don’t even talk about it

  10. Hype O'Thermia

    What it looked like is, they take the badly corroded rails back to naked metal then apply the coating, yes? Which should last – da-de-dum – if regularly maintained? (And if not exposed to contact with salt water…. And if if if if if if if if if if if……….) ‘Zat the story or have I misundercomprehended the complex 21st century technology you get for $346,000?

  11. Calvin Oaten

    DCC staff to meet the company it believes responsible for a failed ramp and steps on the St Clair sea wall. Now that’s lightening progress. Eight years, and we meet. Eight more years and we might get an agreement that the wall is near its half life and as such a proportionate only obligation exists. Then another eight years determining whose fault it really is. Then the contractor will say, that as the DCC has carried out maintenance at its cost, and in doing so has essentially changed the specifications of the installation therefore the contractor can no longer be held responsible for the problem. Eight elections on, no-one alive is responsible so problem solved. Sound about right?

    • {Relocated from another thread. -Eds}

      Calvin Oaten
      Submitted on 2013/04/18 at 12:19 pm

      On a brighter note, I see where our illustrious city servants have caved in once again and agreed to share the costs of $250,000, to remove the faulty stairs and ramp at the St Clair Sea Wall. Pathetic! That was a consultants’ design failure, plain and simple. Nearly ten years on we pay. That cost will only pay for the removal, trust me. What access remedial work is, or is not done, will be our cost absolutely. We probably will never know what that figure is. This is all part of the Harland/Chin legacy when it was decided to remove all vestiges of in house engineering capability, and place ourselves in the hands of consultants. Those crooks and scallywags have had a ball at our expense ever since. If ever there was a need for the city to employ a qualified civil / structural engineer and a lawyer to protect and oversee the interests of the city it is clearly demonstrated by this fiasco. Will it happen? I hope so.


      Hype O’Thermia
      Submitted on 2013/04/18 at 1:12 pm

      When we had our own City Engineer etc even if the individual moved on, we – well, the DCC – retained all the plans and paperwork, there was a build-up of knowledge. There was a record of what had worked and what hadn’t, or had taken an excessive amount of maintenance, so if a similar job came along they knew to investigate other materials, newer or older methods with a better record of performance in the real-life situation compared with the manufacturer’s claims.

      • ### ODT Online Thu, 18 Apr 2013
        Council to share costs of repair
        By Chris Morris
        The Dunedin City Council is cutting its losses but still faces a six-figure bill for repairs to the St Clair sea wall, after agreeing to share costs with the company responsible for the project’s design. Work is expected to begin shortly to remove some of the wall’s stairs and a ramp, leading from the Esplanade down to St Clair Beach. Other stairs along the sea wall will be strengthened. In all, three stairways and one ramp in the middle section of the wall will be removed and five stairways at either end will be retained and strengthened. The council had reached a settlement with design firm Spiire to split the estimated $250,000 bill, meaning each party would pay about $125,000, council city operations general manager Tony Avery confirmed yesterday.
        Read more

        • ### April 17, 2013 – 7:06pm
          Stairs to be removed
          Three sets of stairs and a ramp at the St Clair esplanade will be sacrificed to the sea, after the DCC accepted it was not practical to keep them. The council says it has reached a final settlement – with a cost to ratepayers – after years of negotiation with the company that designed it. Work will begin soon, but the future of access for the disabled is yet to be decided.

  12. Rob Hamlin

    At nearly a thousand bucks a metre for an open rail of no great height or complexity, that’s one pricy paint job – Better be no runs, sags or dog hairs in it. – Wonder what new stainless would have cost if put out to open public tender?

  13. Calvin Oaten

    Rob; the price of 316 stainless steel in 2004 would pale into insignificance compared with the cost of the recent ‘tart up’ of the existing rubbish. But then, that is what you get once we put ourselves in the hand of consultants and have no ‘in house’ expertise to assess that which is offered. It has followed through with every project since, bar none. Anyone notice?

  14. Anonymous

    What is it with this council and confidential settlements? Why for the seawall is it necessary to hide the truth once again? No surprises at all but they really abuse this for their own completely inappropriate purposes, especially when it’s fronted by a Stadium Councillor whose past behaviour compromises any decision he and the rest of his colleagues are involved in today. Obviously this matter is considered safe enough for this one to pop up and be the face of this farcical screw-up.

    Shame on the Otago Stadium Times for just accepting another Dunedin Corrupt Council statement about a confidentiality agreement instead of challenging it.

  15. Grant

    Why was a Councillor fronting a DCC operational issue ? And an invisible Councillor at that.

    • Elizabeth

      Good question. Cr Noone, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services committee. Not Tony Avery, General Manager Operations.

  16. Rob Hamlin

    A child could see that the sea was going to rip these ramps off. Trapped between a horizontal beach and a vertical wall, the titanic energy contained within any large wave simply had no place else to go but up – and it went exactly there – effortlessly necking off the large stainless steel bolts that held these ramps down like plasticine in the process. Only solid structure could have avoided this outcome.

    It takes an act of considerable faith to believe that the supposedly super sealant that we were told keeps the sea out of the gaps between the concrete slabs that form the main structure of this wall will be no more capable of resisting these same forces either. The performance to date of the ramps, steps and rails that were designed and installed as part of the same exercise does little to reinforce any such faith.

    I go queasy when I see people standing on those cantilevered half-moon platforms when there is a heavy sea running. The chance of surviving if pitched into the ocean by a collapse would be slim – Even in thigh deep water, heavy surf running up against rocks and a vertical wall is a killer. This queasiness is not helped by the fact that the whole seawall structure to which these platforms are attached shakes like a jelly when these seas hit it – Even when you are standing fifteen feet back, which is about as close as I am prepared to go to this thing when it is under this kind of stress.

    Why no closer? – Well I’m thinking about how that jelly like shake manifests itself as wobble between the narrow slabs that form the front of the wall , the working of the gaps between them and the impact all this, plus the high pressure sand and salt water, is having on that crucial sealant – (Both the bathroom type that you could see squished into the gaps between the slabs when the when the wall was new and the super stuff that we were assured was behind it when people started asking if something that looked a bit like No More Gaps was the appropriate thing to use in this environment).
    If this sealant has failed, and any form of gap between the slabs now exists, then there is a possibility that every time a sea hits those slabs high pressure water will be squirting between them and slowly sluicing the fill that was placed between this wall and its predecessor away. When compacted fill is sluiced like this under a hard surface such as a pavement, gentle subsidence is usually not the outcome. An arch forms in the fill over the sluicing cavity, and this arch then works higher by progressively small collapses until eventually the arch reaches the surface and the pavement opens up without warning under some unsuspecting pedestrian and drops them into the swilling mess of salty filth and sharp rusty iron at the bottom of the cavity perhaps fifteen feet below – A classic sink hole effect.

    The ramps and rails appear to have been inadequate for their purpose both in terms of design with the former and of the materials used with the latter, and I can neither see, nor have I been given any reason not to suppose, that the rest of the structure that they form an integral part of differs markedly in its specifications and is thus potentially similarly compromised in either or both ways. This may not be an engineering delivery issue, although it has been largely presented as such. You get what you pay for, and maybe this time the DCC as a result of parsimony or technical ignorance simply wasn’t prepared to pay enough to get a proper job done, and the job thus has to be looked at again from scratch.

    However, at present the main structure remains in place largely unmodified. The mechanism described here is just one form that failure of this main structure could take. Any such failure carries with it the possibility of injury and loss of life. Beyond finger pointing and arse protecting, did this wider possibility and its implications for public safety form part of the discussion and settlement between these parties? Given that lives as well as money and reputations may be at risk one would expect so, but we don’t know, do we – and we never will by the looks of it unless someone does end up getting killed, and even then don’t hold your breath. The usual waffle surrounding the equally usual confidentiality is manifest. To take one example, legally getting 90% of what you want and being pleased about it is a bit like getting a bucket with 90% of its bottom still in it and being pleased with that.

    So ‘Walk on, waaalk on, with hope in your heart’ – But not too close to that seawall if I were you.

  17. Calvin Oaten

    Rob, it’s even worse than that. Although the big saver when that wall fails – as it most surely will – is the old wall which is in behind. I remember at the time that the original idea was to excavate down to the hard rock base and cut a trench footing into it. The precast wall panels were then to be dropped into the trench and grouted in place. As a cost saving move it was decided to just drop the panels onto the top of the base into concrete. I suspect that they will be swinging anytime soon, if not already. Then there is the very nature of the beach. The rock curve at the South end is at an angle round to the salt water pool. The predominant weather pattern Nor’easter comes into that rock angle and as any hydrologist would know when a body of moving water meets an immovable object the energy takes off at an angle from whence it came. In this instance it wants to go straight up Beach St, but that pesky wall diverts it along the face of the wall and it rushes along, beating the hell out of the stairs on the way. Then the ramp – which is facing the wrong way – opens its underside, the water drives under in a flying wedge. The kinetic force is simple maths. Volume/mass of water times velocity equals whatever the severity of the storm is. The energy exerted even in a modest storm is huge. Now wouldn’t you think the consultants would have known that. That is another good reason why the city should have a fully qualified civil / mechanical engineer on staff to vet all these shonky get rich quick deals these consultants serve up. I am waiting with interest to see what sort of outcome we get for the Tahuna Upgrade. We won’t even talk about the excavations under the Town Hall of supposedly contaminated fill (which has been there for the last eighty odd years without problems) now being removed at great cost, extra of coarse.

  18. Anonymous

    Exactly Calvin. Mr Empire Builder has gone to haunt another public office so it is well past time to undo the damage, bring the engineers back into the fold, and appreciate and value the existing front-line staff.

    For too long the Dunedin City Council has been one of those flawed institutions buying into corporate ideology that makes a big deal of staff costs, fires hard-working, front-line individuals and then gone on to hire expensive, useless middle management types. Do these companies actually employ people who do any real work today? Middle-managers, upper-management, project managers, publicity consultants, communications teams (aka The Council Spooks)… the list seems endless. All they do is look for problems, write reports that simply tell a company what they want to hear and delegate real work to the remaining staff they haven’t yet change-managed out of a livelihood.

    The council should start with changing its own Spooks department. That’s a multi-million dollar annual budget that would be better suited to a team of engineers who then ward off the interests of Stakeholders and their puppets Stadium Councillors.

    No number of Spooks can undo the systemic corruption in this council anyway.

  19. Hype O'Thermia

    Somewhere on earth there must be another place (or 2, or hundreds) with much the same shapes of basic shore/rocks, similar wave action, similar stresses in every way. There must be records of sea walls that have failed, and sea walls that have lasted for decades – centuries even. Can’t Dunedin learn from others?
    Oh sorry for wasting your time. There was an easy-search internet record of the “success” of stadiums, wasn’t there. Dunedin has to learn by independently screwing up and us. Pity it’s such a slow learner, and stuck in its ways, unwilling to change even when it nose-plants the FAIL sign again and again.

  20. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Wed, 7 Nov 2012
    Seawall work after summer
    By Debbie Porteous
    Work to remove a damaged seawall ramp and stairs at the Esplanade at St Clair and construction of replacement beach access will not take place before the summer. Dunedin city council transportation policy engineer Pieter Besuijen said staff had decided it would make more sense to dismantle the stairs and ramp at the same time as work on installing new access was done.[…]The council did not want to do the work over the summer when the area was busy, as it would require the use of a crane and other heavy machinery.
    Read more

  21. Stu

    St Clair sea wall compromised? Webcam image refreshes every 1 minute.

  22. Rob Hamlin

    This is a predictable mechanism of failure and I believe that I did predict it a couple of years back on this site. People may remember the incredulity expressed when it was discovered that the gaps between the long narrow (and thin) concrete plates of the sea wall were sealed with bathroom silicone mastic (bubblegum). We were reassured (and the archives of McPravda may turn up something here) that this was only to protect better quality bubblegum behind it that would seal the gaps properly, and that this ‘greater bubblegum’ needed the lesser bubblegum’s protection while it went off (whether the bathroom bubblegum was actually up to this task was not disclosed at the time).
    Now the new sea wall consists of a series of separate plates bolted to the old sea wall, which it was supposed to replace, by a series of ties (Are they there – or have they gone the same way as the galvanised railings we wonder?). The quite substantial gap between the two walls was, to put it bluntly backfilled with shyte, and then paved with an unreinforced surface and dotted over with rusty railings benches and giant concrete balls.
    What was going on beneath? Well since the days of Smeaton’s lighthouse on Eddystone, it has been an accepted principle of marine engineering that the power of waves should be diverted not directly resisted. This is why one of the many differences between a properly built sea wall and this one is that the former has a curved ramp shape to it, this one does not. The curved ramp shape serves to divert the wave upwards which reduces the force and also reduces the massive transient shockloads generated if a vertical wall is hit by a wave that is on the point of breaking. This latter only happens with water at a certain depth. Again proper sea walls will have their approaches planned to avoid this depth being achieved at the foot of the wall – whatever the state of the tide.
    None of this good stuff happened here. The outcome was predictable. One of the more entertaining aspects of this sea wall is the manner in which it shakes like a jelly when it is hit solidly by a large roller that is just at this point of maximum destructiveness. The effect on the ramps etc that were tacked on to the front of it is a matter record – a child could have predicted the outcome.
    However, while the failures of the ramps and stairs were spectacular, more serious effects will have been incurred within the wall. The greater bubble gum probably failed quite quickly. The shock pressures generated by a combination of waves and bad design are simply stupendous. Plenty enough to flex the individual skinny concrete plates, and at the same time plenty enough to blast an abrasive and corrosive mixture of sand and salt water between them.
    Once the greater bubble gum was gone, the shyte behind the wall would have been subjected to blasts of salty water at near power-washer pressures regularly for hours/days/years as the surf did its work. The shyte would have done what it always done under such situations, it would have started to sluice away at the base of the wall. Above the sluiced areas, a ‘shyte arch’ would have formed. This arch would have progressively collapsed upwards as the sluicing and vibration continued, but would have kept its strength until the very moment of breakthrough at which point the final bit gave way and the seemingly solid ground gave way beneath the unreinforced paved surface. It’s lucky no-one was killed here by the 15-20 foot drop onto god knows what below. (Often people around the world have been killed this way – read the news) It’s a classic sinkhole effect.
    I have no doubt the DCC will inform us that ‘contractors will assess the damage and initiate repairs. Bullshit. This wall is hopelessly compromised and is irreparable. Attempting to repair it would be more directed towards protecting arses that it would be the public that used to use this structure and the properties that used to be protected by it. A well-educated child could have predicted this outcome.
    Just like the same child could have predicted the efforts over the last weeks of presumably Lund South’s (at least it’s their name all over the site signage – presumably as a civil engineering contractor to the ORC) attempts to establish a lawn in the middle of winter in a drainage gulley the base of which is only around a foot above the ambient water level of the Leith. Take a trip to Clyde St’s Leith Bridge if you want to have a laugh at the results. Regrettably, like the sea wall, it’s likely to be pricey entertainment if you are a ratepayer.
    And yes BillyBob I am a marketing lecturer, not an engineer, and yes BillyBob I do have similar questions about the invisible, but oh so important engineering ‘arrangements’ underneath the FB Stadium and what’s going on underneath it right now with regard to these ‘arrangements’ and for largely the same reasons. I have no confidence in friction piles when the ooze that surrounds them has no capacity to exert friction in a seismic event, and not a lot of confidence at any other time.

  23. Hype O'Thermia

    I blame the manufacturer’s instructions. The “‘greater bubblegum’ needed the lesser bubblegum’s protection while it went off” reports Rob Hamlin, then “The greater bubblegum probably failed quite quickly”. Gone off can mean cured, attained maximum strength, or it can mean goes past usability like milk. Alas we got the “like milk” one.

    If you don’t laugh you cry, or you want to go and bang certain people’s heads against SOLID concrete walls. But that’s the DCC’s job, they’re paid so why don’t they do it?

    • Steve August (Woodhaugh) wrote to the ODT editor only last week about the design of the seawall. It was replied to by DCC’s Mr Graeme Hamilton.

      • ”We’ve got no access to the beach and the polar plunge is in three weeks.”

        ### ODT Online Mon, 27 May 2013
        St Clair Esplanade opens up
        By Rebecca Fox
        Holes, one large enough to swallow a bench, appeared in the Esplanade at St Clair yesterday afternoon, as big swells pounded the coast. About 2.30pm, police and contractors began to cordon off the seaward side of the Esplanade, from the St Clair Lifesaving Club to the car park, as a precaution. The Esplanade was full of people watching the waves crashing against the sea wall. One of the holes in the paved area in front of the life-saving club grew from about 1m long to about 4m long and others had also grown in size after the high tide at 4.30pm. Another high tide is expected at 5am today, swells of 2.3m are predicted and tides of similar heights are forecast for next few days.
        Dunedin City Council roading engineer Peter Standring inspected the site yesterday afternoon and found a significant ”drop out” below the tiles.

        From his assessment of the site, he did not believe the integrity of the sea wall had been compromised.

        ”If you looked back underneath, the tiles were suspended.” It was for that reason the Esplanade was cordoned off, he said. While the tiles looked fine on the surface along the rest of the Esplanade, there could be a void opening up underneath.
        Read more

  24. Peter

    Certainly can verify the unnerving, shuddering effect of waves on this wall. The day before we were standing on that balcony, shown here, near where the hole appeared.Cave Creek came briefly to mind, followed with the rational thought, ‘Don’t get carried away’.Now this happens.

  25. Hype O'Thermia

    A friend in Leith St took me for a walk a few years ago to see the manifestations of insanity. Over the Dundas St bridge we walked and she pointed out where trees had been removed to widen the stream. Then low down, less than a metre above the water, was a kind of flat newly grassed area with some little shrubs. Higher, at the normal bank level, was the little parklet where we as students used to go on walks in the warm evenings to the double swing which was without the usual age-restriction noticeboard; a peaceful spot among the houses in an informal-looking pocket-handkerchief between ‘burbia and Botanic. “What on earth is that, that…?” I asked, waving my hand to indicate the strange man-made flatness at about 2-days’ heavy rain level. “It’s a recreational walkway,” she replied. “One of the bright [omit well-justified rant] overpaid [omit plural noun] has decided a riverside walk for students to experience the precinct blah-de-blah.” “But it’s at normal water level, it’ll be washed away the first decent downpour let alone a flood.” “Yes, we told them. ‘The grass and shrubs will hold it together and regrow afterwards,’ they said.”

  26. Calvin Oaten

    Timing of this disaster’s culmination is faultless. The good old ‘lackeys’ in the DCC had just concluded a settlement with the ‘consultants’ (who have had about six incarnations since doing the evil deed) releasing them of any further obligation. As Rob says, it was a design set up to fail right from the get go. But no, the City didn’t need any in-house skill to investigate the integrity of the design. Jim Harland had determined that the people would be better off relying on the good graces of freeranging consultants. Just what can or will be done with this disaster will be interesting to watch. My bet is that it will be more of the patch and pray approach. It wouldn’t be stretching the imagination to see that situation develop (weather assisting) to where it is not the paving collapsing, but possibly the buildings just a few metres back. What then? The city is broke, a mega $million problem has just been dumped on its doorstep, elections are due within four months and a bit. It will be very interesting to watch the prospective candidates ‘skirt around’ this one. But, all this aside, the problem could be monumental and much much more could be in jeopardy. At the moment no-one knows just what the position is underneath, and as Rob says, it was oh, oh so avoidable if the ‘smart arse’ consultants had just studied history. In the search for cheapness the people always pay in the long run. Like the dune excitement a few years back when Cr Paul Hudson stood on the ramparts and implored God to show his mercy; it was Doug Hall, with his good old number 8 wire technology who came to the rescue and basically saved the day. I don’t remember him getting a truckload of thanks for it either.

  27. Hype O'Thermia

    *THANK* Doug Hall? No way – he’s not one of the truffles’n’steakholders so he gets the opposite treatment.
    Someone didn’t spot that he’s not a doormat either. Big mistake.

  28. Hype O'Thermia

    “From his assessment of the site, he [DCC roading engineer Peter Standring] did not believe the integrity of the sea wall had been compromised.” That’s nice.
    Generally speaking it used to be considered desirable to have a wall in some kind of context. Enclosing something, keeping something out, supporting a roof.
    A “wall” in isolation may be a Statement i.e. art.
    Has anyone discussed this with Bill Acklin?

  29. Hype O'Thermia

    Great photo

    St Clair Esplanade 27.5.13 - Deborah MacLeod ( Clair Esplanade 27.5.13. Photo: Deborah MacLeod (via

    {Image added. Since this photograph was taken the ‘sinkhole’ has enlarged considerably. -Eds}

  30. JimmyJones

    Yes, Hype O’Thermia, Peter Standring must be talking from a philosophical point of view. He seems to have de-contextualized the wall from its earthly functionality. His ability to judge the integrity of an object, such as a wall, in isolation to its normal everyday functionality and surroundings (back-fill in this case) is a gift not often bestowed on an engineer. Perhaps his gifts could be better used with a different occupation.

    • A taxi driver showed me the developing holes at 12 noon today, on his iPad. OMG.

      If I didn’t have appointments I would’ve raced out to get some photos. What I saw was MORE than compromised~!!! Graphically~!!!

  31. Robert Hamlin

    From today’s McPravda:

    “Dunedin City Council roading engineer Peter Standring inspected the site yesterday afternoon .. He believed yesterday’s high tides and swells shook the tiles loose but the undermining of the ground had probably occurred over time, as the sea sucked material out from behind the sea wall.”

    I think that Mr. Standring is telling me that there is a hole in the wall.

    However, in the next sentence…:

    “From his assessment of the site, he did not believe the integrity of the sea wall had been compromised.”

    I think that now Mr. Standring is telling me that there ISN’T a hole in the wall.


    The DCC roading engineers’ litany:
    The sea is red, the trees are blue, I am bright purple………and so are you!!

  32. Update + video:
    St Clair Esplanade opens up
    A further hole has opened up in the Esplanade at St Clair and two holes which appeared yesterday have merged into one larger opening. The holes in the paved area in front of St Clair Lifesaving Club first appeared yesterday as big swells pounded the coast. The new hole is on the Lawyers Head side of the surf-lifesaving ramp.

  33. Hype O'Thermia

    King James Bible
    Matthew 7:26
    And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.

    Religion viewed with skepticism I don’t have a problem with – quite the reverse. But chucking out babies with bathwater, seceding from the Realm of Sense, now that’s a worry.

  34. Peter

    We do have a Dutch boy on council to put his finger in the dyke (dike, dam). Lee?

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