The West Coast Regional Council has awarded Hokitika business Henry Adams the contract to undertake the next stage of flood protection work for the town.

Henry Adams has already completed the urgent first stage of the anticipated three-stage project.

The first stage, behind the Westland Milk Products plant and dubbed 1a, was built during Winter and Spring 2023.

That project was deemed urgent in late 2022 amid farming and civic leader fears that the river was about to break out of its bed behind Westland Milk Products.

The possibility of the river overtopping the previous flood bank and sending a deluge through the West Coast’s biggest employer and compromising Westland’s $1B+ contribution to the local economy spurred the council into action.

West Coast Regional Council infrastructure manager Sam Scott said Henry Adams will build the next stage of the flood resilience project following an emergency council meeting days before Christmas, where the tender was awarded.

The next stage, dubbed by the council as ‘1b’, is a completely new protection wall along a nearly 1km stretch adjoining Gibson Quay and the railway line between Westland Milk Products and the Hokitika River Bridge.

While the project on paper was ready to go, the final consent process necessary to start work on the ground still needed to be signed off, Scott said.

“We’re just waiting on some feedback from some of the affected parties. Once that feedback has been received and reviewed we then we hope to be in a position where the consents can be awarded,” he said.

However, the council was “delighted” to be nearly underway, and work should start on the ground in about two months.

Scott said getting to that stage was “a big testament” to the collaborative effort of a number of agencies, including the Westland District Council, NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and Poutini Ngai Tahu.

“It’s very much a joint collaborative effort.”

Scott said the economic benefit for the whole town was obvious.

In light of that, the dairy company had chipped in over $1m to council in support of the first stage, 1a.

“Westland Milk Products have been very receptive and supportive of that work,” he said.

By Brendon McMahon, Local democracy reporter

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.