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Indicative land categorisations a significant step in building back safer, stronger and smarter

Esk Valley Silt April 2023 39 resized

Indicative land categorisations across Te-Matau-a-Māui Hawke’s Bay will be a significant step forward for enabling the region to build back safer, stronger, and smarter, say Hawke’s Bay’s leaders. 

Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst, says Councils will be providing the initial information to impacted residents this week.

“A comprehensive community conversation will start mid-June once we have more information on how we can keep our community safe during extreme weather events.

“As part of the recovery process, we made it clear we are committed to communicating directly with our most impacted communities first.

“The reality is that Categories 2 and 3 cover a wide spectrum of scenarios and circumstances, so more work is being finalised. People will receive an update, via email, from mid-morning on Thursday, 1 June.”

Alex Walker, Mayor for Central Hawke’s Bay, said informing property owners of the outcome of this first phase of the risk assessment process would likely be a positive step forward for many.

“Right from the outset, as a region we have recognised the critical need to provide as much certainty as possible, to as many communities as possible, as quickly as possible. 

“We look forward to having the assessments on Category 1 areas completed, as scheduled, by 31 May, and to subsequently communicating directly with impacted property owners by email in the first instance to let them know the outcome of this process, enabling them to get on with their recovery and move forward with their lives.”

While this week’s announcement will be welcome news for some, understanding what recovery options may exist for Category 2 and Category 3 areas remains a priority for the region, says Napier Mayor, Kirsten Wise.   

“For our most impacted communities, there is an urgent need to understand what happens next and what the recovery options are.   

“For those in higher risk areas, these indicative land categorisations are just the start of the process. There is still a significant amount of information and investigation required to fully understand all options for the future, and we know this important mahi needs to continue at pace.

“While we understand policy decisions for higher risk areas are still being worked through, our desire is that any decisions about, or changes to, future land use involves a voluntary process, and we’ll continue to advocate for this for the people of Hawke’s Bay.”

Wairoa Mayor, Craig Little, says impacted communities will continue to play an important role in determining what happens next.  

“Once these indicative land categorisations are confirmed, Councils across Hawke’s Bay can move forward with the next part of the process. This involves engagement directly with our most impacted communities, which is due to commence across the region by mid-June.

“We remain committed to ensuring that decisions that impact a community are made with that community’s involvement and input, and we look forward to working together with our communities and with our Māori, Iwi and Hapū partners as we transition from immediate response toward meaningful, long-term recovery.”

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair Hinewai Ormsby says the risk assessment process has involved looking at data from a range of sources, including the Regional Council, Ministry for the Environment and insurance company claims data.

“These are hugely complex decisions, and we are committed to sharing what we know, when we know it.

“We remain deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of the people of Hawke’s Bay, and we know many of our most impacted communities are doing it tough as they deal with how life has changed following Cyclone Gabrielle.

“While we do not yet have all the answers, together, Councils in partnership with the Regional Recovery Agency, will continue to do everything we can to keep people informed as we continue our transition toward meaningful, long-term recovery.”

31 May 2023

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