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Together stronger

Nuhaka Flood meeting low res

Drainage and flooding issues in the Nuhaka village need a collaborative response with the Wairoa District Council and Hawke’ Bay Regional Council committed to finding solutions.

The two authorities met with around 100 local people last Thursday evening (23.11.23) and sent a clear message of ‘together we are stronger’.

Residents shared their stories of Cyclone Gabrielle and early November flooding, with many properties being hit twice.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little acknowledged the people of Nuhaka and the rest of the district had been through a lot because of the extreme weather events, and the two Councils were there to listen. They had been on the ground looking at the flooding that had occurred and impacted Kahungunu Marae, the original Nuhaka School and then the LDS Chapel, which the school had relocated to.

Locals brought along solutions, with many saying they had been flagging the drainage and flooding problems for decades, and even when there was a response, the work was not getting done.

They encouraged the local authorities to open, widen and deepen drains and culverts, realign waterways, reduce angles, clear waterways of debris and listen to local knowledge.

Others acknowledged topics included keeping the Nuhaka River mouth open, that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council had inherited former Hawke’s Bay Catchment Board problems, particularly around areas built on flood plains, and that a whole-catchment approach was needed.

The authorities were also urged to make contact with their contractors to ensure that the work that is being contracted is being completed in an efficient, streamlined way.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chief Executive Nic Peet said the next step is to work together and get solutions in place. He described the drainage assets as a mixture of ownership between private landholders and the two Councils, KiwiRail and NZTA Waka Kotahi.

“We need to pull all parties together and utilise local knowledge combined with engineering expertise.”

Dr Peet suggested a New Year timeframe, which the community baulked at, and Wairoa Mayor Craig Little urged the local community to identify their top three priorities now to enable any immediate work to be carried out.

Mr Little sympathised with the community, pointing out that the Councils were at Nuhaka to listen, and KiwiRail and Waka Kotahi were noticeably absent. He said the Central Government had turned the funding tap off for more than 30 years, and that was one of the reasons why we are in the position we are now. “There is a lot of work to do, and Wairoa District Council will try its best and work with other stakeholders.”

Locals were encouraged to feed information through Nuhaka Emergency/Resilience Plan Project Coordinator George Rarere to ensure local knowledge is captured.

In closing, Hawkes Bay Regional Council Chair Hinewai Ormsby said the relationship between the two Councils had never been stronger. “We know that together we are stronger and we need the other players, KiwiRail and Waka Kotahi, here too as they are part of the solution. “We are committed to working together and identifying short, medium and long-term solutions. We will come back to you, and we will make sure things change.”

30 November 2023

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