Government pumps a further $3m into Wairoa flood recovery

The government is pumping a further $3 million into Wairoa for its flood recovery.

The announcement comes as Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has visited Wairoa on Saturday to inspect the damage.

The region was devastated by rising waters last week, including areas that had never been flooded before.

“The Wairoa District Council has identified what it needs, and this additional funding is immediately available for the work,” Emergency Management and Recovery Minister Mark Mitchell said.

The funding was set to go towards the clean-up of household waste and sediment for more than 400 properties impacted by last week’s weather event.

This included the collection, removal, and disposal of sediment, debris and household waste.

The $3 million funding is from a bigger pool of $10 million that the government announced in the Budget this year to help the Hawke’s Bay region to complete its sediment and debris removal from Cyclone Gabrielle.

Following last week’s severe weather event, the government asked the region to reprioritise part of the $10 million pool for clean-up in Wairoa.

The government has already released $600,000 worth of funding for Wairoa.

“In total, this means $3.6 million of government funding is available to assist Wairoa communities with the recovery and rebuilding process,” Mitchell said.

“Our priority is to ensure that communities can return to normalcy as quickly as possible.

“We are committed to standing by the people of Wairoa and all affected regions during these challenging times.”

Wairoa mayor Craig Little said the extra boost from the government was “huge” and would give people some peace of mind.

He said the situation was still bad.

“We’re quite under the pump … but to have the backing of the government is huge.

“The priority is always going to be the people and their homes, trying to get them sorted and get their rubbish away.

“You can imagine, you’ve lost your livelihood, all your possessions, everything.”

Mike Bush to lead inquiry into river bar management

Former Police Commissioner Mike Bush has been appointed to lead a “short, sharp” review into the council’s management of the river bar, Luxon said at a media stand up.

The Prime Minister expected the review to take about four weeks.

“I expect he will complete his inquiry and the outcomes will be known in the month of August,” he said.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has come under fire for the bar’s management and has admitted Wairoa would have flooded less if a channel to let the rising river release into the sea was dug sooner.

The council has commissioned its own external review into its handling.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon leaving for Wairoa on 6 July, 2024. Credit: Pool/NZME/Paul Taylor

Luxon said it was “good to get on the ground and see what’s been happening.”

Locals he spoke to told him they had a lot of anxiety over high tides, rain and what the state of the bar was.

He said the further $3 million worth of funding today was specifically for the immediate challenges with clean up of debris and sediment.

The Wairoa District Council had only asked for $2.7 million for the clean up, he said.

Little has previously estimated there was about $40 million worth of damage.

Luxon said the bigger question around long term solutions would be finalised over the coming month.

“There’s two issues. We can remove a lot of the anxiety that’s sitting in the community if we get a permanent stopbank solution in place for the event that was caused around Cyclone Gabrielle and we can also remove the anxiety if we really understand what’s happened with bar management and bar maintenance,” he said.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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