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17 Tairāwhiti homeowners given Category 3 news

Thursday 1 June, 2023

Seventeen homeowners in Tairāwhiti have had their houses classified by the Government as unsafe to live in, with the land they’re on no longer suitable for residential.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz says it’s a devastating blow for these property owners and the communities most impacted.

“Yesterday we started calling the 17 owners of these homes.

“The majority of them (14) are in the city.”

The properties have all been put in Category 3 of the Government’s Future of Severely Affected Land (FOSAL).

“Category 3 is the highest, and this is a Government classification separate to Council’s red-sticker assessments.

“Category 3 means there is a future severe weather risk that cannot be mitigated and there may be a threat to life.”

Mayor Stoltz says while the news has been devastating, there’s also been an overall feeling of relief and certainty for most people who have been contacted with a few expressing concerns about what’s next for them.

“There are other Government Agencies who will provide support for these property owners.

“We know there’ll be a lot of questions and an urgent need to understand what happens next and what the options are.”

The Government announced today it will enter into a funding arrangement with councils in cyclone and flood-affected regions to support them to offer a voluntary buyout for owners of Category 3 designated properties.

“It will also co-fund work needed to protect Category 2 designated properties. Decisions on the details of how the voluntary buyout process will work will be made in the coming weeks.”

Mayor Stoltz says Council will take their lead from this Government policy.

A process is also underway to engage on appropriate processes for Whenua Maori.

“Each property is unique and influenced by a range of different factors. The situation is incredibly complex, and we don’t have all the answers yet.

“As a Council, we remain committed to sharing information quickly to help those affected make plans.

“These are challenging decisions with long-lasting impacts. Which is why we are taking the time to get this right.

“Property owners deemed to be in Category 2 will be notified next on what options will be available to them, including whether they can return home in the future or will need to relocate due to the flood risks.

“We are waiting for Government announcements about what is available. Then we’ll work with landowners and ensure there are options and support available.”
Mayor Stoltz says preliminary maps showing the areas affected will be available at the end of next week.

“These maps could still change after further hazard work is carried out. We’ve been told some properties could shift within Category 2, or even be shifted to Category 3. As soon as we know, we will let landowners know.”

The Council in collaboration with the Government’s Cyclone Recovery Taskforce, have been working on which areas should be placed into each category. The risk assessment process was based on data from Council, Ministry for the Environment, and insurance company claims data.

In the past twenty months, Tairāwhiti has experienced eight major storm events, four of which were declared states of emergency.

The most extensive of all of them was Cyclone Gabrielle on 13 February 2023.

The recovery is being locally led by the Recovery Coordination Centre in Council, and nationally supported by the Cyclone Recovery Taskforce and Government.

“We need to ensure our communities are safe, protected and connected."

1Repair to previous state is all that is required to manage future severe weather event risk.Minor flood damage to repair but no need for significant redesign/retrofitting.
2CCommunity level interventions are effective in managing future severe weather event risk.Local government repairs and enhances flood protection schemes to adequately manage the risk of future flooding events in the face of climate change effects.

Property level interventions are needed to manage future severe weather event risk, including in tandem with community level interventions.

Property specific measures are necessary e.g., improved drainage, raising houses is necessary. Benefits accrue to property owners but some may face affordability issues.

2APotential to fall within 2C/2P but significant further assessment required.

Interventions may be required / possible but insufficient information to provide initial categorisation (these may subsequently move between "2" categories or to categories 1 / 3).


Future severe weather event risk cannot be sufficiently mitigated. In some cases some current land uses may remain acceptable, while for others there is an intolerable risk of injury or death.

In the face of enhanced climate risks the property may face unacceptable risk of future flooding. Other property could be subject to unstable land that poses an ongoing risk.