Monday, March 4, 2024

Land categorisations provide clarity for communities

More than half of the residents located in provisional Category 2 and Category 3 areas across Hawke’s Bay have been moved to Category 1, less than two months after the land categorisations were first announced on 1 June.  

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair, Hinewai Ormsby says the release of more than 1,200 residents from provisional Category 2 and Category 3 areas across Hawke’s Bay was a huge step forward for the region. 

“I want to recognise our Regional Council staff who have worked so hard to support the region in getting to this point,” said Chair Ormsby.

“The Regional Council and its contractors worked tirelessly to repair the breaches of the region’s flood protection network following the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle.  

“This is hugely important work that has been completed at pace in order to help the region move forward with its recovery. Our teams continue to work to restore the flood protection network. 

“I also want to acknowledge the collaborative efforts of our region’s city and district councils who have worked closely with our team and with their communities as we work to build back safer, stronger and smarter.”  

Mayor of Hastings, Sandra Hazlehurst said that while progress has been made, there was still a huge amount of work to be done for the region’s most-impacted communities.  

“For the more than 600 Hastings residents who now find themselves in Category 1, there is no doubt a huge sense of relief in being able to move on with recovery and to move forward with their lives,” the Mayor said.

“We cannot lose sight, however, of the uncertainty that remains for a significant number of residents whose homes and communities are still in provisional Category 2 and Category 3 areas.” 

She says negotiations with central Government around the voluntary buyout process and further funding support continue to be progressed with urgency to enable all the people of Hawke’s Bay to move forward. 

“From the outset, we made a commitment to ensuring any decisions that impact a community are made with that community’s involvement and input, and I’d like to acknowledge the many people who have provided feedback to date via the numerous channels available.”

“Our teams and those of the Regional Council are working through this feedback as quickly as possible.” 

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor, Alex Walker, recognised the significant input from impacted residents through the numerous community engagement processes underway across the region.    

“While there is still significant work to be done, it’s positive that so far over 400 of Central Hawke’s Bay’s hardest-hit residents are now able to confidently move forward with their lives. Thank you to everyone who attended meetings and provided feedback that enabled this to happen,” said Mayor Walker.

“Our focus remains on supporting our most impacted communities and further hui are taking place over the coming weeks, to answer questions, discuss needs, and make plans. We are all in this together, and we are working to ensure that no one is left behind.”     

Mayor of Wairoa, Craig Little, said the town still has properties classed as provisional Category 2A, which was “a complex and uncertain categorisation”. 

“While there may be options for some risk mitigation, we simply do not know enough to make fully informed decisions and without significant external funding, we will not be able to afford any proposed flood mitigation,” he said.

“Our biggest focus remains on looking after our community and listening to our people.” 

Napier Mayor, Kirsten Wise says the significant progress made over the last seven weeks is testament to the collaboration of all involved in Hawke’s Bay’s recovery.   

“As a region we have experienced devastation that will take years to recover from. Recovery is complex, and any decisions we make now must have future and intergenerational safety at their heart.”

“Despite this complexity, it is pleasing to see that by working together efficiently and effectively, the many entities involved in Hawke’s Bay’s recovery continue to achieve positive progress on the journey toward meaningful, long-term recovery.”

Chair Ormsby noted that Hawke’s Bay is the only region that has done this level of work on land categorisation.  

“We have worked hard to preserve options for property owners, believing that they want options, and we are working hard to provide certainty for people,” she said.

As at 24 July, the updated number of properties provisionally categorised as Category 2P, 2C, 2C*, 2A or Category 3 are as follows:  

 Cat 2P Cat 2C Cat 2C* Cat 2A Cat 3 Total Moved to Cat 1 
Hastings 19 133 128 205 246 731 615 
Napier – – – 20 21 178 
CHB – – 127 – 135 444 
Wairoa – – – 684 – 684  
Total 28 133 128 1,016 266 1,571 1,237 

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