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Government commitment is essential in responding to Ministerial Inquiry

Friday 4 August, 2023

Reducing risk and strengthening resilience were outlined as key phases in the Government’s response to recommendations by the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use (MILU).

Minister of Forestry Peeni Henare was in town for the announcement at the Emerald Hotel yesterday.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz thanked the Minister for his support, saying the commitment of central government in responding to the issues our region faces, and supporting the recovery of Tairāwhiti, is essential.

The MILU report highlighted the urgent need for action and unity to reduce risks in the immediate future and strengthen resilience to future extreme weather events.

“Our region has suffered its fair share of adverse weather events, with nine significant storms resulting in five local states of emergency since June 2021.

“Dealing with Civil Defence emergencies is not new to us, however the heartbreak caused by the destruction to our waterways, beaches, and property from woody debris, slash, and sediment is intolerable.”

Council supported Te Mana Taiao and the now 12,000-strong community petition seeking an independent review, and actively collaborated to support the process undertaken by the independent panel.

Mayor Stoltz emphasised that the Council firmly supports several findings in the report, including strengthening land use rules to manage activities in areas with extreme erosion, conducting flood capacity assessments, and halting clear-fell harvesting.

“As we move forward, we recognise addressing these challenges requires collective efforts and collaboration among mana whenua, industry and central government.

“Council has already taken significant steps to protect our environment and community by investing significantly in Resource Management Act (RMA) functions, overhauling the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan (TRMP), increasing monitoring and enforcement efforts, and successfully prosecuting forestry companies,” she says.

“We have also secured government investment to remove debris from our land, as well as established a taskforce to address poor practices.

“Central government support and commitment are essential as we recognise Council alone does not have the regulatory levers and financial capacity to deliver everything required to recover and preserve our taonga for future generations.

“It’s important all parties play a role, as our region's future resilience depends on the collaboration of all parties. We stand ready to work tirelessly to ensure that Tairāwhiti remains a safe and sustainable place for all.”