Greens on RMA

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has spoken up about National’s proposed Resource Management Act reforms, expressing concerns that ‘people’ and ‘neighbours’ won’t get to have their say adequately.

Greens: RMA reforms will ‘lock people out of having their say’

The Green Party has criticised proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA), saying the overhaul would leave many people out of the consultation loop.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the changes will leave too many people without the means to voice their opinion on changes in their neighbourhoods.

“The major part [of the legislation] will be locking people out of consultation and having a say,” Ms Turei told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

She says even under the current laws, only a relatively small number of people are actually involved in the process.

“More than 90 percent of the consents that are issued under the RMA are not notified, there’s only a really small proportion where people get a chance to have a say about what happens in their neighbourhood and we think their right to have a say should be protected.

“There are people who are affected by the decisions that other people make, they should have the right to say [something] about that.”

“We’re talking about people’s neighbourhoods; there are big issues in Auckland at the moment about the nature of development in Auckland City – should Aucklanders be locked out of having a say about what happens in their city?”

Turei seems to be confusing two things – people having their say (there’s many ways they can do that) and potentially bogging down RMA applications because some people want to stop anything changing in their neighbourhood.

This is already a real problem here in Turei’s electorate of Dunedin North, where people oppose building on the other side of the harbour to where they live (and other places) because they don’t like the look of it.

And it could get worse.

The Dunedin City Council is currently proposing a ‘second generation’ district plan. A proposal in that is to designate large areas of the city above the 100 m contour as a ‘significant landscape zone’. And thatb will significantly restrict what you can do with your land if it’s above 100 m in those zones.

A lot of Dunedin is over 100 m.

I have a special interest in this because I own properties that straddle the 100 m contour.

Under the new proposals if I want to build a building larger than 60 square metres I will need resource consent.

If I want tp build a house higher than single story or with paint greater than 30% luminosity or plant particular species of trees or a number of other things I will need notified resource consent.

So neighbours and people on the other side of the harbour will be able to have their say. And if past experience is anything to go by people will oppose.

The local Green dominated council and the Green Party want everyone to be happy before anything is built, and if someone doesn’t like the look of something in the distance then they can do more than have their say – they can stop people doing normal sorts of things with their own land.

There’s a vast difference between environmental protections (important) and allowing neighbours to have their say and prevent people douing what is not out of the ordinary on their own land.

This illustrates a major problem many people have with the Greens.

Just about everyone wants to protect the environment as much as possible, so having someone sticking up for environmental issues is great.

But most people don’t want severe restrictions on what they can do with their own land and property.

And they don’t want extreme Greenies preventing them from doing fairly normal and reasonable things with their own property just because the extreme Greenies have what they want and don’t like the look of something else.

Refugees for Dunedin

Dunedin has been chosen as another refugee settlement destination to cater for the influx  from Syria.

Dunedin chosen as new refugee settlement location

Dunedin has been selected as a new refugee settlement location following a whole of Government assessment.

The assessment included looking at employment, housing and Government services available alongside the support provided by the local community.

The decision to choose Dunedin was made by the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy Senior Officials’ Group – made up of representatives from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Office of Ethnic Communities and Department of Internal Affairs.

There are currently five settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the six week reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre – Auckland region, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington region and Nelson.

INZ General Manager Steve McGill says an extra settlement location is needed following the Government’s decision to welcome 750 Syrian refugees over the next two and a half years in response to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Dunedin was considered alongside New Plymouth, Hastings / Napier, Invercargill and Tauranga.

Mr McGill says all the locations had certain advantages but Dunedin was selected for a number of reasons.

“Dunedin has a strong set of services and is a well-connected city where a number of government agencies have a presence,” he says. “There are good employment opportunities in the area, suitable housing is available and there is excellent support from the community.”

The university will be a benefit to some of the refugees – and the university coud benefit from some of the refugees as well.

I think this is a good thing for Dunedin. We could do with a little bit of positive news that involves mainating a population here.

An I have no worries at all about any security issues. They will only be a small number in comparison to the annual influx of students from around the world.

Woman seriously injured, houses damaged in Mosgiel fire

A big blaze fanned by strong winds yesterday afternoon burned 50-100 hectares near Mosgiel (near Dunedin).

The ODT reports that as a result a women is in a serious condition in intensive care, and ‘up to nine’ houses have been damaged.

Woman hurt in raging fire

A woman is in Dunedin Hospital in a serious condition after a vegetation fire raged across Saddle Hill yesterday.

The flames swept through 50ha to 100ha, damaging ”up to nine” houses and forcing residents and livestock to be evacuated.

Unseasonably hot weather and strong, gusty winds fanned the flames, causing the fire to jump several roads.

Smoke was dense in places and the heat intense. St John Coastal Otago territory manager Doug Third said ambulance staff transported a woman to Dunedin Hospital in a ”serious condition”.

She remained in intensive care last night.

A series of photos were posted on Facebook showing how quickly the fire grew.


There was some rain late yesterday afternoon but it cleared and strong winds have continued overnight.

Otago shooting threat – hoax or not it’s a problem

Yesterday an anonymous person posted a threat on the 4chan bulletin board of a shooting massacre at Otago University on Wednesday. It was then copied to Reddit and Facebook.


Whether this is a stupid hoax or a serious threat it is causing a lot of problems and anxiety.

What is 4chan?

4chan is a simple image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images. There are boards dedicated to a variety of topics, from Japanese animation and culture to videogames, music, and photography. Users do not need to register an account before participating in the community.

Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 at Virginia Tech in 2007.

This afternoon the police put out a statement:

Otago University threat

National News

Dunedin Police are aware of a threat made via an online post that relates to the University of Otago.

Specialist staff are actively investigating the post with assistance from the High Tech Crime Group in Wellington.  Police are also working closely with the Vice-Chancellor and the University.

“Police would like to reassure University staff and students, and the wider Dunedin community, that appropriate measures are being taken in relation to the post,” says Inspector Mel Aitken, acting Area Commander: Otago Coastal.

“Police take any threat seriously while its source and authenticity is being assessed.

“Our advice at this time is to be alert and vigilant but not alarmed while our investigation is ongoing.

“Police will be maintaining a high visibility presence in the area and taking other appropriate steps which we are unable to discuss publicly.

“We are also asking those in the University area to report any suspicious behaviour immediately to Police.

“We understand that a threat of this nature could be concerning to some people. Police, University of Otago and Campus Watch staff will be available to speak with anyone who has concerns.

“Police is experienced at assessing a range of threats and we investigate any matter of concern which comes to our attention. We are also mindful of the possibility of “copy cat” threats following high profile events which occur overseas.   We will deal firmly with any individuals associated with any such copy cat threats.

“Police will communicate any further advice necessary as our investigation progresses, and we will continue to work closely with the University of Otago.” said Inspector Aitken.

So will life go on as usual in Dunedin tomorrow? There are many students and staff at Otago, some of them will have some real concerns for obvious reasons. I know people personally with close associations with the University who have concerns.

Whatever the intent and motives of the person who posted the threat the effects of something like this can be huge.

It shows that in a normally boring old backwater like Dunedin one person can cause major problems without even doing anything real.

And if the person is serious the problems increase substantially.

A state of peaceful living can be easily and quickly be overturned.

A bit windy

Going by reports it was very windy around the South Island yesterday, but somehow Dunedin missed it – until late in the afternoon when a sudden storm hit. I was working outside at the time and it caught me by surprise.

A balmy day with temperatures in the twenties transformed instantly. Wind, rain, lightning and thunder suddenly hit. It was one of the most dramatic storms I’ve seen. Soon I didn’t know if there was still thunder, the wind itself was so noisy.

The temperature halved within a few minutes to about 10 degrees.

The Taiaroa Head (Otago Peninsula) weather station has the most dramatic wind record. There was strong winds there through the afternoon but the storm hit just before six with wind going off the chart – 70 knots is about 130 km per hour.

The wind kept coming in bursts through the night, waking me several times. At times it rocked the house.

It’s just getting light so I’ll be able to see soon if there is any damage out there.

Clare Curran for Dunedin mayoralty?

The ODT has a story about rumours that Labour MP Clare Curran may stand for the Dunedin mayoralty.

Mayoral hopes verified, denied

The fog of war is descending as Dunedin’s mayoral aspirants jockey for position a year out from local body elections.

While some candidates are already putting their hands up for the top job, including Cr Andrew Whiley, others, including sitting Mayor Dave Cull, are continuing to play their cards close to their chests.

But that hasn’t stopped the rumour mill kicking into high gear in Dunedin. Much of the early attention is focused on one woman _ Clare Curran.

Ms Curran, Labour’s sitting Dunedin South MP, has been linked to a tilt for the Dunedin mayoralty by a variety of sources speaking to the Otago Daily Times.

She sounds like an unlikely candidate for Mayor.

The rumour is said to have come from inside Ms Curran’s office, although she vehemently denied the ”mischievous” suggestion when contacted.

”You will not see my name on the ballot paper next [local body] election.

”I’m the MP for Dunedin South. I’ve got a job.”

As far as political denials go that’s a strongish one.

Political commentator Bryce Edwards, of the University of Otago’s politics department, said a mayoral bid by Ms Curran ”sounds unbelievable”, but Labour was ”going through some quite serious reorganisation”.

Declining support for Labour in Dunedin South during the last two general elections could ”absolutely” mean Ms Curran was a candidate for change, as the party looked to renew itself, he believed.

”No doubt there will be some MPs that are having pressure applied to them to move on. It’s entirely feasible Clare Curran is one of those people.

”Questions are being asked within Labour about the ability of incumbent MPs to hold their party vote up. That’s the real measure that the party is judging all of their incumbents on.”

Ms Curran’s name recognition and profile would give her ”a strong shot” at Dunedin’s mayoralty, and she would also follow in the footsteps of some prominent Labour colleagues, Dr Edwards said.

It needs more than name recognition, although David Benson-Pope was elected to council in 2011, presumably more on name than reputation as a failed MP.

Curran just seems like an unlikely mayor to me.

But her future in Labour doesn’t look great.

Dunedin City fraud

Otago Daily Times have combined information from a police investigation file released yesterday under an Official Information Act request and Deloitte’s full report (of their investigation) that was leaked to ODT last month.

Two escape Citifleet prosecution

A police report suggests Brent Bachop’s death and a right to silence may have helped two others escape prosecution following the Dunedin City Council’s $1.5 million Citifleet fraud.

The police investigation was launched last year after Deloitte found Mr Bachop, the former Citifleet team leader, to be at the centre of the decade-long fraud.

He was found to have sold 152 council vehicles, while pocketing proceeds, and police concluded in June there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone else in relation to the fraud.

But the police investigation file, released yesterday following an Official Information Act request, questions the actions of two other parties – a Dunedin car dealer and an unnamed woman – who were not charged.

There was evidence both parties had ”potential culpability”, one for receiving stolen goods and the other for conversion of a council vehicle.

However, the death of Mr Bachop – who was not named directly in the police report – and the right to silence meant both had a defence that could not be overcome, it said.

That conclusion came despite the actions of one of the parties – a salesman at an unnamed Dunedin car dealership – being considered ”highly suspicious”, the police report said.

The ODT goes on to explain the reasoning by the Police for not prosecuting, and they name the woman and the car dealership. They didn’t name the salesman himself but I’ve seen his identity revealed online previously.

While these two individuals have escaped prosecution the burden of their exposure as highly suspect will live with them.

And Dunedin City Council has a severely stained reputation on this as well. One hundred and fifty two cars not being accounted for over ten years shows extremely lax asset management. Several senior staff have resigned since this was publicised.

Stuff also reports: Police raised possibility of others involved in Dunedin City Council Citifleet fraud.

The police investigation followed a Deloitte’s report which suggested six potential areas of criminal activities: 152 missing vehicles, credit card/fuel card spending, purchase of a motorbike, council vehicle conversion and cashing cheques for refilling parking machines.

The subsequent police investigation was to determine if anyone other than Bachop was involved in fraudulent activity, and if anyone had culpability as to the offending, or as a receiver.

Police spoke to all but three of the people who bought one of the 152 vehicles. Those three people could not be traced.

“Almost without exception the purchasers of the vehicles stated that they believed (Bachop) was entitled to sell the vehicles and had no reason to believe that he was not forwarding their money onto council,” the report noted.

So it remains unknown whether any of the car purchasers had any inkling they were getting bargains at the expense of ratepayers or not.

And the ‘negligence’ of the Council is pointed out.

The report also concluded that the council’s finance department was “negligent” in the way they maintained the fixed asset register.

“There is no evidence that anyone deliberately turned a blind eye to the errors on the register, nor is there any evidence that anyone in the finance department would have any motivation to complicit in (name withheld) offending.”

Negligence is a mild description for a finance department that did not detect that an average of fifteen significant assets per year for ten years were disappearing from their books.

And this may not be all. The Council decided to not investigate further back than ten years due to difficulties in checking through records. What records? It’s basic stuff accounting for assets.

Brent Bachop took over management of Dunedin City’s vehicle fleet from someone who was referred to as ‘Arthur Daly’.

The known level of fraud and the lack of confidence that it was the only fraud is a very bad look for Dunedin.

We can only hope that the Council now has rock solid accounting and accountability.

Venus-Jupiter conjunction from Dunedin

I was out and about early evening yesterday and noticed a bright ‘star’ near the western horizon, with another lesser one close to it. It was so unusual I wondered if it was a bright light on a hill, but it was just too high for that.

Twitter answered my question – it was a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, which must be lining up on the far side of the sun. Venus’ orbit is inside Earth’s, while Jupiter is the closest gas giant beyond Earth.

Ian Griffin, director of Otago Museum and also a keen astronomer and photographer, took some cool pictures and posted them on Twitter.

VenusJupiter30June-1Venus and Jupiter shining high in the afternoon sky (I guess about 4 o’clock-ish). Taken from Hoopers Inlet which is on the south eastern side of Otago Peninsula, looking west over Dunedin Harbour. That’s Harbour cone on the left (I see it from the harbour side from home) and Mt Cargill in the distance.


Taken from (I presume) the Peninsula road overlooking Otago Harbour with
the triple volcanic peaks of Mt Cargill lined along the horizon.

VenusJupiter30June-4A little later from a little further west (Ian must have been travelling along the Peninsula road towards Dunedin City).


Just on dusk (5-5.30 pm-ish), zoomed in from a similar location.

Although the Venus-Jupiter conjunction was setting behind Mt Cargill from Dunedin City you see them into the evening (I saw them still just above the western hills at 8 pm.


A zoomed in long exposure after dark. Amazing to see four of Jupiter’s sixteen moons lined up.

Photos posted on Twitter by:

Ian Griffin @iangriffin

Promoting science, innovation and culture in Dunedin New Zealand & beyond. I’m the 8th Director of the Otago Museum, but this is my personal twitter account.

The orbital inclinations of the two planets are similar – Venus 3.23 degrees and Jupiter 1.18 degrees – so they can be seen close together when they line up like this.

National Geographic explained the conjunction in Venus and Jupiter Get Bright and Tight in This Week’s Sky.

If you spot clear skies any evening this week, don’t miss your chance to witness a stunning close encounter of the two brightest star-like objects in the sky.

Venus and Jupiter—both dazzling star-like objects—will appear to huddle close together in the sunset skies this week. This will be the planets’ nearest approach in over a decade.

Both worlds have been slowly converging over the past several weeks, and on Tuesday, June 30, and Wednesday, July 1, they will reach their tightest grouping, separated by less than half a degree. That’s less than the width of the disk of the full moon. So close that onlookers will be able to cover both planets with just their pinky held at arm’s length.

Astronomers call these celestial meetups conjunctions. And this is the second in a series of three between Venus and Jupiter in over a year. The cosmic duo were a bit tighter on August 18, 2014, and will be a tad farther apart in their next encounter at dawn on October 26.

Venus will appear about 6 times brighter than Jupiter even though it’s only a tenth the size. That’s because Venus is eternally enshrouded with highly reflective white clouds and is much closer to Earth. It’s about 56 million miles (90 million kilometers) away while Jupiter is much more distant—some 550 million miles (890 million kilometers).  So their apparent proximity to each other is just an optical illusion.

But before that, Venus and Jupiter will offer one last opportunity for an amazing photo at dusk. As a grand finale, the planets will be joined by the razor-thin crescent moon on July 18th. The tight celestial grouping will span no more than 4 degrees—less than the width of the three middle fingers held at arm’s length.

After July 1st, both planets will appear to quickly separate and sink closer to the horizon. They’ll be lost in the glare of the sunset by the end of the month. Both will reappear in late August as bright morning stars visible before dawn.

Even though conjunctions aren’t that rare, this series is the best between these planets in about 15 years. If you miss the remaining conjunctions, you’ll get another chance next year on August 27.

My take from this is that while Jupiter slowly moves in the background (it takes 2432.5 Earth days to orbit the Sun) Venus and Earth are moving in the same relative direction in their current orbits (Venus’ orbit is 224.7 days).

Greens use Dunedin to highlight major climate problem

The Greens have linked the heavy rain in Dunedin on Wednesday to climate change. In Question Time in Parliament yesterday Green co-leader Metiria Turei started with these questions.

1. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he agree that local authorities will face greater adaptation costs and find it more expensive to protect infrastructure and property as the climate changes; if not, why not?

A reasonable question – “as the climate changes” is debatable but most science suggests it may get warmer and with more extreme weather events.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change editor Professor Blair Fitzharris that as global warming continues, Dunedin is likely to face more extreme rainfall events, storm surges, and extreme winds, and that low-lying, densely populated areas, coastal communities, and major transport infrastructure, including Dunedin Airport, are particularly at risk?

These are important points that we would expect the Greens to raise.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with Dunedin City Council’s submission on New Zealand’s climate change target, which says “More effective mitigation could significantly reduce potential future adaptation costs” and that “the Government should consider investing more in climate change mitigation”; if not, why not?

The Dunedin City Council is fairly Green leaning so this is no surprise. But it’s highly questionable whether the Government can do anything that would significantly alter any effects of climate change – New Zealand’s emissions are a very small proportion of global emissions and reducing emissions here by 40% as the Greens want is likely to make a very small difference at best.

Metiria Turei : How does the Minister justify the National Government’s record on climate change, which shows a 13 percent increase in net greenhouse gas emissions, to the people of Dunedin and to the Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull, who said today “There may be some areas with sea level rise that we end up retreating from and not putting any more infrastructure in and actually taking the buildings out of. That is the challenge going into the future with climate change.”?

That would be a major for Dunedin, which has large flat areas – reclaimed swamp – that are inhabited. These include South Dunedin, St Kilda and St Clair, plus much of the Taieri Plains. If Dunedin “retreated” from those areas it would more than decimate the city.

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister taking into account increased adaptation costs for local councils when determining New Zealand’s emissions reduction target, given that the Dunedin City Council estimates that engineering options to protect private property and infrastructure in high-risk areas against a 0.3 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $10 million, and that protection against a 1.6 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $150 million?

If these “increased adaptation costs” prove to be necessary it is going to be regardless of what New Zealand does with emissions. We have a minute effect on world climate systems.

Metiria Turei : By not taking urgent leadership on climate change, has his Government not abandoned the Dunedin City Council and the people of Dunedin to pick up the cost of more extreme rainfall events like yesterday, when the city was swamped in 24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain, causing flooding, electricity outages, sewerage overflows, the evacuation of rest homes and schools, the Otago Peninsula being cut off, and which left the side of State Highway 1 “looking like a canal”?

Now Turei is trying to emotionally use a single weather event to criticise the Government and promote Green policy on climate change.

Yes, parts of the city were swamped – large parts of the city used to be swamp and have always been at risk of heavy rain accumulation.

“24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain” is overstating things. On Wednesday there was 150-170 mm of rain. While it’s common for Dunedin to get 40-80 mm of rain in a month it’s not uncommon to get much more. For example:

  • April 2014 – 144.8 mm
  • June 2013 – 195.2 mm
  • May 2013 – 141.8 mm

So only two years ago there was 337 mm in two months.

  • May 2010 – 207 mm
  • June 2009 – 158.4 mm
  • May 2009 – 163 mm
  • June 2002 – 137.4 mm
  • May 2002 – 205.4 mm

So it’s quite common to get heavy rainfall at this time of year. In a single month there was more rain than there was on Wednesday.

  • January 2002 – 251 mm

2002 was a much wetter year than this year has been so far.

  • October 2001 – 164 mm

Source: University of Otago Weather Station

So while this week there was an abnormal amount of rain in a day the total over a month. Including this week’s downpour Metservice shows that rainfall in Dunedin over the last 31 days is just over 200 mm, that’s much higher than usual but not uncommon.

Turei’s last question:

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister not confirming by his dismissive attitude towards the science of climate change that someone is paying the cost of his doing nothing on this issue, and that this week that just happens to be the people of Dunedin?

The present and past Governments haven’t done nothing. They have done far less than the Greens want them to do. But the reality is that even if we eliminated all our emissions, wiped out all emitting animals from the country and reforested the whole country it is likely to have a negligible effect on the world climate.

New Zealand reducing emissions is necessary but in the whole scheme of things it would be little more than a token change, and not weather changing.

As part of the international community New Zealand needs to do something, and should do more than at present.

But Greens have a major problem – if they overstate weather events, if they link single local weather events to world wide climate and if they try to shame other parties into adopting their climate targets then they are likely to find it difficult to get co-operation.

Their over the top claims are more likely to repel rather than attract support for their ideals. Like this One News report:

Climate change and Government’s ‘inaction’ to blame for Dunedin’s 100-year-flood, say Greens

One News have chosen that headline on a rolling blog on the rain in Dunedin that covers many topics.

The Dunedin flood is a result of climate change and the Government’s “inaction” on the issue, the Green Party says.

“The flooding in Dunedin highlights that the National Government needs to stop being the problem and start being part of the solution on climate change,” Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Since National came to power in 2008, New Zealand’s net emissions have increased by 13 percent; the scientific consensus is that increasing emissions will cause more extreme weather events.”

Ms Sage said the Government should aim for an emission target reduction of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.”Last month it was Wellington. Yesterday it was Dunedin. What region will suffer next from a lack of strong, cross-party leadership on the climate?”

“Strong, cross-party leadership on the climate” – Green-speak for ‘do what we want’ – would have had no effect on flooding in different parts of the country.

At a recent climate change consultatin meeting in Dunedin two Dunedin councillors spoke:

Dunedin City councillor Aaron Hawkins also stood up to speak, his voice cracking.

”I want to acknowledge the anger that’s felt by my generation and people younger … that the question of even having children is such a moral and ethical dilemma.”

Hawkins is not speaking for “my generation and people younger”, he’s speaking for himself and like-minded Greens, a minority.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said the target of a 40% emissions reduction by 2030 many people in the room were calling for – and which was criticised as being inadequate by Prof Bob Lloyd earlier in the night – was a ”compromise”.

So claims for a 40% reduction are seen as a minimum by some.

And their claims are not universally supported. The ODT reports:

Don’t blame climate change for city deluge, weather experts say

The flooding in Dunedin on Wednesday was not caused by climate change, a University of Otago climatologist says.

”I think this is just a weather event,” Dr Nicolas Cullen, of the department of geography, said.

The Green Party and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull have been quick to link the downpour to climate change.

Dr Cullen cited a 1929 downpour of 220mm within 24 hours, and estimated Wednesday was a one-in-30-year event.

”This particular event is more related just to the weather patterns that developed over the period which allowed that frontal system to really hit Dunedin quite hard.”

”You tell me. It’s wrong,” Dr Cullen said when asked why it was called a 100-year event by the Dunedin City Council.

”I wouldn’t put this in the climate change basket too quickly.”

If the same rainfall happened every month for a year ”then we can start talking about climate change”.

The flood did, however, demonstrate the city’s potential vulnerability to sea level rise, he said.

So a climatologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

Dunedin hydrologist Dave Stewart said his initial estimate of Wednesday’s flood was a one in 30-to-50 year event.

He had not had time to analyse the data, but rainfall at various sites ranged from 140mm to 180mm.

Mr Stewart was scathing about the DCC’s 100-year claim, saying he did not know how it arrived at the estimate.

He also dismissed the idea the event was linked with climate change.

And a hydrologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

This highlights a major problem with climate change – exaggerations and unsupportable claims don’t help the Green case of action on reducing emissions. They make it easier to dismiss them as a bunch of extremist nutters.

A lot of rain

A freak weather system dumped a lot of rain on Dunedin yesterday. 174 mm of rain was recorded for the day, which is more than the record rainfall for June for Dunedin, 168 mm.

This is as reported by One News but the rainfall varied in different areas as did the recording. Metservice states 164 mm on the Dunedin weather page, and the University of Otago weather station lists 152 mm.

Regardless, there was a heap of rain in a day, especially for Dunedin where most rain is relatively light, and sustained heavy rain is uncommon.

This has already prompted claims of ‘climate change’. It may or may not be related. It was an unusual weather pattern that targeted Dunedin and surrounding areas.

DunedinInfraRedWeatherThis infrared photo from 3 am this morning still shows the system in place that swept wind and rain in towards the Dunedin region.

I watched a lot of this unfold yesterday from an elevated office. I left work early because I wanted to avoid travelling at dusk. I didn’t have any problems getting home but negotiated several semi-flooded parts of road and passed many torrents pouring down the West Harbour hillside. There were some minor slips that only just reached the road. This was probably one of the less scathed parts of the city.

After dark two drivers didn’t notice a wash out and crashed into it on the Peninsula – Road ‘disappeared’.

I know someone who had difficulty getting their kids home from school and ended up getting their ute swamped so they had to walk the last half kilometre.

We lost our power about midnight but it’s now restored, but others are still switched off.

We won’t find out the extent of damage until it gets light today but there will be a lot of cleaning up to do.

I’m not a meteorologist nor a climate scientist so will make no claim on what this momentary weather event means in the greater scheme of things, except that I think it’s impossible to be sure.


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