Photo: Corena Hodgson

A Government/council funding arrangement for the voluntary buyout of Category 3 residential properties was announced by Cyclone Recovery Minister Grant Robertson on Thursday morning.

The funding arrangement would also be used to offer protection for Category 2 designated properties in flood-affected regions.

Category 3 properties (236 in HB) face future severe weather event risk that cannot be sufficiently mitigated, while Category 2 properties (2526 in HB) require property or community level interventions to manage severe weather event risk.

“From the beginning of this process the Government has supported a locally-led response to the North Island weather events, as requested by councils and communities in affected regions,” Minister Robertson said.

“The facilitation work that the cyclone taskforce has been engaged in to undertake risk assessments has been completed. From here the councils will lead engagement with their affected property-owners.

“Today’s announcement will help councils get the right solution in the right place and avoid significant financial hardship for property owners.”

Details are being worked through and should be ready by mid-June, he said. This will include the criteria for valuation of Category 3 properties, the split of costs between councils and central Government and the treatment of uninsured properties.

Resilience measures and flood protection for Category 2 properties have already received some support from the $100 million funding announced in Budget 2023.

Associate Finance Minister Michael Wood said initial indications across all regions showed there were about 700 Category 3 properties and up to 10,000 homes in Category 2.

This HB Land Categorisation website contains significant detail, including Q&As on how the programme will unfold and maps of affected areas. Here’s an illustrative map from the eighteen provided.

A statement released by Mayors Sandra Hazlehurst, Alex Walker, Kirsten Wise and Craig Little, and HBRC Chair, Hinewai Ormsby indicated they were pleased with the announcement.

The decisions on land categorisations provide further and much-needed clarity for the communities across the region who were severely impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The joint statement said while the provisional land categorisations were just the start of the process, homeowners in Category 1 (defined as needing only to be repaired to their previous state in order to manage future severe weather event risk) would now be able to move on with their recovery with confidence.

Owners of Category 2 and 3 properties continue to face significant uncertainty while work continued. The two categories covered a wide range of scenarios and circumstances, including properties that weren’t damaged.

“We want to work closely with our impacted residents to ensure we understand the valuable local knowledge that exists within our communities,” said council leaders.

“All of this important mahi will only be able to progress with strong Government support and, although the funding confirmed through Budget 2023 is a step in the right direction, as we’ve stated before, this is significantly less than we need as a region if we’re going to build greater resilience into our region’s flood protection schemes over the many years ahead.”

A “safer, stronger, smarter” rebuild would require investment far greater than anything the region had seen before, the statement concluded.

Wood said that while the Government was committed to assisting councils to find solutions, it could not meet all costs, “particularly knowing that we will see more extreme weather events like this”.

“As a Government we have to strike a careful fiscal balance between supporting affected communities and not making all taxpayers bear the cost. But the affected communities can be assured we are committed to making this approach work.”

Hawke’s Bay leaders said they “looked forward to working with central Government and the Cyclone Recovery Taskforce as we continue our transition toward meaningful, long-term recovery for the people of Hawke’s Bay.”

There are a total of 2,526 properties provisionally categorised as Category 2 and 236 as Category 3 in Hawke’s Bay as at June 1.

These categories would contain non-stickered properties that were not damaged but fall into an area of risk in relation to future sever weather events.

AreaProvisional Category 2Provisional Category 3
Central Hawke’s Bay5790

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