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Orua Bay collapse: Hillside part of unstable sand dune area, councillor says

Fire and Emergency crews at Orua Beach where a house collapsed on Wednesday injuring three people. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

An Auckland councillor says the hillside where a bach collapsed is in an unstable sand-dune area, and the viability of nearby homes is uncertain.

Three Australian tourists were injured - two seriously - when a landslide engulfed the building at Orua Bay Beach on the Manukau Heads on Wednesday.

Fire and Emergency (FENZ) regional manager Ron Devlin said it was a difficult rescue operation because the trapped person was a metre below tide line.

Franklin ward councillor Andy Baker has been been helping with clean up and said it was incredible the occupants survived the collapse, with one injured woman rescued from deep under the rubble of the house.

"She was about three metres into the debris - they took about three metres of digging and moving stuff to find her."

A person who was trapped after their property collapsed at Orua Bay on the Āwhitu Peninsula has been rescued by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
A person trapped after a bach collapsed at Orua Bay on the Āwhitu peninsula was rescued by Fire and Emergency New Zealand Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The house owners from Auckland were stunned and very worried about the occupants, he said.

"The actual property is just devastated, there's basically nothing left other than rubble."

Five houses nearby have been evacuated until the council can determine if they are safe.

Baker said site of the collapsed bach was ruined and it was unlikely to be rebuilt.

"The earthworks required would be massive.

"It's going to be very interesting to see what the geotechnical reports say about the viability of the remaining baches.

"It's pretty unstable. Āwhitu is a massive sand dune ... it's an unstable place and that's why it got smashed yesterday."

There would be other places along the Āwhitu peninsula coastline in a similar situation, he said.

"It's a big coastal sand dune that's exposed to the elements.

"At the moment we've just got sodden water tables, the water's got nowhere to go and so it just pushes down onto the dirt and away we go."