The land categorisation criteria for flood-affected properties has now been through peer-review with very minor changes, a joint statement from Hawke’s Bay leaders says.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair, Hinewai Ormsby said now that the data has undergone a detailed review things could move into the next phase of the process with confidence.

“We look forward to supporting our region’s city and district councils as they continue their community conversations over the coming weeks,” she said. 

This means that for a lot of people, the category they were put in will not change. However, for those in Category 2 & 3, this won’t be confirmed until an in-person consultation takes place.

Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said that each property in Categories 2 & 3 was unique.

“[They’re] influenced by a range of different factors, and our region’s leaders are conscious that councils need more information, including information from impacted communities, before any final decision can be made.  

“We know that for those most impacted property owners across the region, ongoing uncertainty around what is happening with their properties and their communities remains challenging. Engaging directly with those communities is the critical next step in the broader recovery process.” 

Alex Walker, Mayor for Central Hawke’s Bay, said there was valuable local knowledge and first-hand experience in the community that needed to be heard.

“We remain committed to ensuring that decisions that impact a community are made with that community’s involvement and input.” 

BayBuzz is aware of two properties in Esk Valley that had previously been put in Categories 2 & 3 (different parts of the property were at different risk levels), that have now been downgraded to Category 1 after in-person engagement with the owners.

One landowner said the council’s engagement and response had been “really impressive over the last few weeks” and that after all the uncertainty the decision had been a relief.

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise says while community conversations are occurring, the region’s leaders will also continue their ongoing discussions with Central Government.  

“Together, our region’s councils also need to continue working closely with the Government who have committed to providing funding to support councils. 

“As announced earlier this week, negotiations with the Crown led by former Cabinet Minister, Chris Finlayson, are expected to commence in the coming days and will be progressed with urgency as we continue our transition toward meaningful, long-term recovery.” 

Esk Valley resident Justine Seymour-Wilson, said she was advised on Wednesday afternoon that her property was going back to Category 1. 

She didn’t know of any others who had heard yet, she said.

“Getting an email from the council to say we were in Category 3 was a shock and added stress to what we had already been going through. I got straight onto the Hastings District Council to say this was not ok.”

HDC had totally understood her frustration, and relayed this information to Regional Council and someone had come out to take a look, she said.

“The original email from Regional Council could have been presented in a better way so as not to panic those of us whose homes had not been touched,” she said.

To boot, heavy rainfall on Thursday was proving very stressful for Esk Valley residents, she said.

“Gosh your heart pumps. Think this valley has had enough. Some green grass around and sunshine would make it all better.”

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


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