Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The End of the Sea Wall

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posted on 2021-11-22, 16:27 authored by McStay, Shannon

With climate change becoming more widely understood, we are beginning to see how this phenomenon is impacting on our ability to live coastally. Coastal properties represent some of the most expensive real estate in the country, however these properties are being battered by increasing storm surges causing coastal erosion and decay to the land on which they sit. This is resulting in people fighting to keep their homes out of the water, along with an increasing need for a solution to keep the water out of their homes. In Raumati, sea walls began appearing in the 1950s with people blocking their individual properties from the ocean with wooden log walls. These walls have continued to get larger, higher and more solid until they have become the rock accumulation, stone path and concrete walls that stand today along almost the entire length of the Kapiti Coast.  The impact of such walls is that, while they protect the land immediately behind them, they cause greater issues further down the coast, causing sections of the coastline to deteriorate at a far more accelerated rate. The aim of this project will be to put an end to the Kapiti sea wall by addressing the site at the southern end of Raumati where this erosion is becoming increasingly evident. Here, the delicate sand dunes are being eaten away by heightened storm surges and an ever-increasing sea level.  Rather than looking at it as a negative effect, this thesis will explore the opportunities that are opened by this decay. The project proposes the reinstating and re-wetting of the once drained wetlands that lie behind the natural dunes. Above these wetlands, a ranger’s hut will act as a home, embassy and church within Queen Elizabeth Park. This allows for a greater sense of custodianship, with more people coming, going and staying within the park. The project outcome will be a building that combines public and private spaces. It will allow for the fluctuation in sea levels to interact with and become a part of the building, rather than being excluded through traditional approaches to dealing with climate change on coastlines. Hence, this ranger’s hut will put an end to the sea wall.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Kebbell, Sam