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Wairoa flood mitigation discussed

flood mitigation

A comprehensive flood mitigation scheme to protect Wairoa in the future was the focus of discussion at last week’s Land Category meetings.

Two hui were held last Wednesday to discuss Wairoa’s predominantly 2A land categorisation label given by Central Government.

Most of the Cyclone Gabrielle North Clyde flood-affected area, and along Frasertown Road, has been categorised 2A, indicating many unknowns but allowing for collective community interventions moving forward.

More than 100 people attended the two hui. While residents were pleased to have avoided the Level Three Category, allowing for voluntary Government buy-out, there were concerns about how flood mitigation would be funded.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council interim Chief Executive Bill Bayfield said Wairoa is unusual because it has no flood scheme. “There was a scheme designed after Cyclone Bola in 1988, but the cost was deemed too expensive. Back then, that cost was around $22 million, and to reproduce that design now is more than $60 million.”

Mr Bayfield acknowledged that Wairoa couldn’t afford a typical cost-sharing arrangement with Central Government, and further funding investigation would be needed, along with input from Central Government, Hawkes’ Bay Regional Council and Wairoa District Council.

“We would start with the scheme drawn up after Cyclone Bola and revisit that to produce a more upscale comprehensive approach utilising flow paths, spillways, stop banks, science, history and local knowledge.

“We want to develop flood mitigation with Wairoa that suits Wairoa and leaves the community with a safe legacy, and backed by a funding arrangement that is locally-led and centrally supported.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair Hinewai Ormsby said the regional council is committed and dedicated to going to central government and saying we need Wairoa to go from 2A to something better. We need to be united and work together, so we don’t end up like we did after Cyclone Bola - with nothing.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said the Wairoa District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council relationship is more important now than ever. “We are at the start of a marathon, and we have a big journey ahead.

“Flood protection is for the whole of Wairoa, not just North Clyde, and it will take time.”

Mr Little stressed that the government’s Land Categorisations are only provisional at this stage, and more hui will take place to discuss options further to ensure a sustainable endurable solution for now and into the future.

29 June 2023

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