The Silt Recovery Taskforce has moved close to 900,000 cubic metres of silt around Hawke’s Bay, completing over half of the 977 logged jobs in the process.
Silt Recovery Taskforce Lead Darren de Klerk says unless more money comes in by the end of October, work will stall again.
“Without confirmation of more funding we will find ourselves at a stand-still again in a few weeks, which means we’ll likely have to wind down the operation due to having no funds,” says Mr de Klerk.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair Hinewai Ormsby says finding more money for the Taskforce is a high priority.
“We want to reassure the community that we are listening and we know they are hurting and are concerned about the funding of the Taskforce. We know that the Silt Recovery Taskforce mahi is far from done. We asked for $200 million in March, and estimate we still need $70 million to complete the work.
“We appreciate the money Government has given us to date for this important mahi, but we see the reality ahead of us and are advocating for more funding after the election,” says Chair Ormsby.
Hastings District Council Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says she continues to push for more Government assistance for silt and debris removal.
“We have been upfront with Government from March about how much money we estimated we needed to clean up the silt from around our rohe, and we still have work to do,” says Mayor Hazlehurst.
“We are engaging with both major political parties in the lead up to the election to make sure it's an immediate post-election priority for the incoming government.”
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said in the Wairoa district around 20,000m3 of woody debris material has been stockpiled on the beaches and reserves.
“The recovery work to date has prioritised key recreational areas along the coastline, river mouths, beaches and bridges. This recovered material needs to be either burnt, shredded or transported to a dumpsite to complete the operation; however, additional external funding is needed to complete this work.”
Mr Little said large stretches of the Wairoa district coastline remain inundated with woody debris, which, if left, will likely remobilise and cause further problems to the beaches, river mouths and infrastructure.
“Completing the removal of woody debris now will assist in mitigating further debris issues, and I urge the government to provide funding for this additional but vital work. People have a right to access their beaches and waterways for recreation and gathering of kaimoana and this needs to be further recognised by the government.”
Hawke’s Bay’s Regional Recovery Agency (RRA) Chief Executive, Ross McLeod, says securing further, ongoing funding for silt recovery remains a priority.
“In recent visits to Hawke’s Bay, Ministers and other central Government representatives were able to view silt removal operations in action, helping to demonstrate the critical importance of keeping this highly valued, productive land restoration programme running through the planting season and beyond.”
“The RRA will continue to work closely with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the Government and the Opposition parties over the coming weeks as we look to secure further funding for the removal of silt and debris across the region.”
Mr de Klerk reiterated that the current funding will likely dry up by late October with plenty still to do creating great uncertainty for all – landowners, contractors, those working in the Taskforce, and the wider community.
“We are hearing from the community the amount of help that is still needed in our rohe, and that this work is critical for the recovery of our economy and getting our land back into production. We will continue to lobby Government after the elections to get more help for Hawke’s Bay.”
“We estimate the money we have left will allow us to complete approximately 50 further collections by the end of October., as well as manage our sites. Applications for collection requests closed on the 6 October with 647 jobs logged for silt collection and 330 jobs logged for wood and waste debris collections.”
There are 440 jobs left in the system, with an estimate 1,200,000m3 of silt and debris to be cleaned up. The Taskforce has recovered over 140,000 tonnes of woody debris and processed approximately 60,000m3 of waste debris.
“The risk of not continuing the work will be widespread and we fear will impact our communities for some time – including the delay of landowners getting their land back into production, loss of jobs from our contractors, and dust which is a risk now and will only worsen heading into an El Nino summer. We hope to be able to continue to can manage the dust risk through continued silt removal and controlled management – at deposit sites along with controls like seeding or sowing land and watering down hotspots to minimise community impacts.”
11 October 2023
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