Thursday, July 18, 2024

Hawke’s Bay flood response review terms finalised

The terms of reference for a review into the performance of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s flood scheme assets and river management programmes have been finalised, signalling the start of the review.

Regional Council Chair, Hinewai Ormsby said the Council was fully committed to a thorough review of its flood infrastructure.

“While our team will be providing full disclosure to support the process, they’ll also remain at arm’s length throughout to ensure all resulting outcomes and conclusions are independent,” she said.

The terms of reference state the purpose of the review is to:

  • Understand the circumstances and contributing factors that led to flooding in the Hawke’s Bay region during Cyclone Gabrielle;
  • Report on the performance of the Regional Council’s flood scheme assets and river management programmes during Cyclone Gabrielle;
  • Review decision making regarding catchments where flood scheme assets and river management programmes exist and whether these remain viable;
  • While the Regional Council has initiated the review, it has commissioned an independent three-person panel to conduct it thoroughly. 
Dr Phil Mitchell.

The panel will be chaired by Dr Phil Mitchell, an Auckland-based partner and co-founder of Mitchell Daysh, a nation-wide specialist environmental and planning consultancy. 

The other two panel members are Kyle Christensen, an independent consultant from Wellington with over 20-years’ experience in river and stormwater engineering, and Bernadette Roka Arapere, a barrister with Kōkiri Chambers, Whanganui, who specialises in public law litigation, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori legal issues, and whenua and governance matters.

During the review process, the panel will be engage with members of the community affected by the cyclone, as well as iwi and stakeholders with an interest in the flood event from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The scope of the review is to look at the performance of all Regional Council-owned flood protection, drainage schemes, river management programmes and associated assets as well as to consider and recommend a range of long-term, holistic options that have regard to increasing risks related to climate change.

“Given the vast damage and devastation impacted communities experienced from Cyclone Gabrielle, this review is incredibly important to us,” Chair Ormsby said.

“We’re looking forward to the findings and recommendations and Regional Council hopes to be able to build them into its long-term planning to ensure our rohe has greater resilience against similar future events. We also hope that learnings can also be taken and applied to other regions where applicable.”

Excluded from the review are any roles or responsibilities that lay with district or city councils, Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management (HBCDEM) responses or anything occurring once the region had moved into the recovery phase of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The final report is expected to be received by the Regional Council and subsequently released to the public in early 2024.

A second review of the HBCDEM Group operational response to Cyclone Gabrielle is also planned to commence this year, the timing of which has yet to be confirmed.

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