$204 million Government offer accepted

Thursday 2 November, 2023

The Government’s offer of $204million to support our region's recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle was accepted at an extraordinary Council meeting yesterday.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz says it’s a step in the right direction on our road to recovery.

“I’m incredibly proud of what this organistaion has done over the past three months – what has come out of that process and what we are seeing today.

“It’s not perfect by any means but we did our very best in a very challenging situation.”

Mayor Stoltz says she’s received extensive feedback about the Recovery Office and how they’ve interacted day to day with people who are hurting.

“Sometimes they just need an ear, and those people were there all the time.

“I’d like to acknowledge not just the mahi that was done, but how the work was done and how our community was treated.

“We were there for them and walked alongside them on an imperfect journey and did the best we could.

“Thank you as well to the councillors, who went out into the community and listened to the curly questions.

“Council supports this package, and after extensive consultation last month, it’s clear our community supports it too.

“While this funding does not cover the full amount needed for our full recovery, this was an all-or-nothing offer.

“We asked our whole community what they thought over two weeks in October.

“Out of 224 responses received to our online survey, 90 percent support accepting the funding package. We also undertook community hui around our region to ask affected communities what they thought too.

“Councillors also support this package, and we thank the Government for their help in our region.

“On 13 and 14 February Cyclone Gabrielle caused massive damage across Tairāwhiti, and many people are still out of their homes.

“There is a strong need to get on with our recovery. Accepting this offer today is a step in the right direction.”

Mayor Stoltz says there’s considerable work still to do before money comes our way.

“Delivery plans need to be created and submitted to the Government, and there’s lots of work around flood mitigation to investigate possible designs and options.

“We know the community will be keen to understand where and how this funding will be spent and we expect to be able to provide more detail to our community in the coming weeks as project plans progress.”

The $204 million offer accepted today includes:

  1. $64m for flood risk mitigation (Council must pay 10 percent toward the costs of each project, so the combined investment will be $70M)
    1. Flood mitigation includes activties like stormwater and drainage improvements, making room for rivers, riparian management, and new assets such as stopbanks. Priority catchment areas include City Urban, Ormond, Manutuke, Patutahi, Te Karaka, Hangaroa, Uawa, Tauwhareparae, Makarika, Tikitiki, Tokomaru Bay and Waingake.
  2. $15m for buyout of Category 3 properties – this will be on a 50:50 cost share between Council and government based on the valuation of these properties as at 12 February 2023. The overarching objective of the Policy is to help get people out of harm’s way because there is an intolerable risk to life.
  3. $30m interest-free loan – this funds Council’s 50 percent share of Category 3 buyouts and Category 2 flood-risk mitigation, road and bridge repairs.
  4. $125m for local road and bridge repairs. The main project in this is the $45m alternative to Tiniroto road funded 100 percent by the Government’s offer. Additional funds will fix cyclone-damaged bridges, build new bridges that have been destroyed, clear roadside drains and culverts and replace safety measures.

Community Lifelines Acting Director Dave Hadfield says there is a three to five-year timeframe for the new Tiniroto Road with the first year taken up with investigations and design options.

There are 51 Category 3 Properties (at least ten of which are whenua Māori and are eligible for the Kaupapa Māori process being managed by Central Government) and 770 Category 2 properties in Tairāwhiti.

Acceptance of the Government Support Package means the buyout process for Category 3 properties can now commence.

There are still a number of steps both property owners and Council need to take before any offers to affected landowners can be presented by Council, including completion of an independent property valuation of the property and settlement of insurance claims.

A buyout policy guide is being developed to help those who are in Category 3 work through the process.