Blair O'Keeffe

The structure and process for developing our region’s cyclone recovery programme was clarified this week with the announcement of the new Regional Recovery Agency’s Oversight Board.

Going back a step, in case you missed it, Hawke’s Bay now has an in-formation Regional Recovery Agency (RRA), whose interim manager is Keriana Brooking. BayBuzz reported on the RRA and its interim chief here.

But in a nutshell, the RRA is responsible for pulling together a comprehensive recovery plan for the region, drawing upon both territorially-based plans developed by our councils and region-wide plans developed by the RRA staff (perhaps two dozen, yet to be recruited) to address six cross-cutting areas (‘pou’ or ‘pillars’ in RRA parlance): Environmental Resilience, Economic Growth, Whanau/Community Wellbeing, Primary Sector, Resilient Infrastructure and Recovery Transition. The RRA work will also integrate the responsibilities of government agencies (e.g., MSD, Transport etc) into the overall regional plan.

Effectively, this is HB’s latest attempt – dictated by the sheer scale of needed recovery planning and resourcing – to meld localism with regionalism.

The RRA website does a good job of explaining the basic framework and allocation of roles, and this chart provides the basic overview.

The Government will be expecting the region to set forth its needs as a region, with one voice, and will expect that outcome to be ensured – and progress against milestones overseen – by the newly-announced RRA Oversight Board, to be chaired by Blair O’Keeffe, a seasoned HB-raised executive, currently serving as chair of Napier Port and HB Rescue Helicopter Trust, and a director of Unison amongst other governance roles. A big picture guy.

Other members of the Trust are:

  • John Loughlin – chair of Rockit Global, with a history of governance roles in the primary and tech sectors;
  • Renata Hakiwai – board member of Heretaunga Tamatea Settlement Trust and chair of its commercial/investment arm, experienced in workforce development;
  • Wendie Harvey – chair of HB Airport and numerous other directorships, local and NZ-wide;
  • Caren Rangi – various directorships including Creative NZ, Radio NZ, HB Regional Economic Development Agency;
  • Tania Eden – chair, Mana Ahuriri Trust, chief executive, Te Taiwhenua o Te Whanganui a Ōrotu;
  • Billy Brough – consultant providing strategic environmental policy and sustainability advice.

It is said that this board was “collaboratively” selected by Government and our local leadership, the latter in the guise of the Hawke’s Bay Matariki Governance Group, co-chaired by CHB Mayor Alex Walker and Leon Symes, Chair of Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa. This group includes the region’s mayors and HBRC chair, plus local Māori leadership.

So, who’s in charge at the end of the day?

By all appearances, that would seem to be the RRA and its Oversight Board. That’s where the sifting of competing local priorities and addressing broader challenges requiring truly regional solutions that cross territorial lines will need to occur. As noted above, the Government will want to hear one voice presenting one programme with one budget. Implementation of the regional plan will be left in the hands of councils and agencies and private sector partners and service deliverers.

Said Mayor Walker: “We need the independent Oversight Board to provide strong leadership on the big strategic needs for recovery, which will require whole-of-region delivery and confidence from central government, local government, iwi and private sectors as investors in our future.”

Our local councils are expected to consult with their respective constituencies in formulating their ‘Locality Plans’, but these consultations will need to be ‘fast and furious’ as the first drafts of these are due to the RRA by the end of April, with a more refined version in later May. Here, as an example, is how Napier City Council is consulting.

As for the RRA and its Board and their workings, this is uncharted territory from a transparency standpoint. How much of their planning, including the critical ‘pou’ work, will be visible and how it will be informed by public input is yet to be described.

The issues of public engagement, accountability and transparency will be critical as tough trade-offs – involving both public and private sector players – will be required in the days and months ahead, and the public will need to have confidence in decisions made and the rationale for them.

BayBuzz will do its best to hold these various entities to account and shine the light on them.

Stay tuned.

Photo supplied. 


Join the Conversation


  1. I agree with the concept of one region one voice. But my question is how will the newly formed HB REDA fit into all this?? Are they not going to compete with each other and or overlap/duplicate policy ??

  2. Agree that is what is needed but I dont see a place where money is coming from or where that already donated and directed here is being governed. Hope it is not all going into administration for I dont know of a single volunteer among the people noted in the Board.

  3. Maybe, just maybe this is a great opportunity, as is the new version of the 3 waters plan, for the leaders of our region to REALLY start working together and not let this be another talk-fest/expensive-plan producing exercise with token-input from the community. Let’s hope (expect?) that our leaders will rise to the occasion and leave the destructive small-mindedness of the (recent) past behind them, once and for all.

  4. And who’s going to pay for any suposedly fix it? And pay for ALL the swank feed ups and endless talk fests ? In the end?
    Right on, the forever screwed iratepayers of Hawkes Bay!
    Just saying……

  5. What a recipe for a host of grandstanding and another cyclone of hot air. And where’s the democratic vote in all that appointing? I’m not holding my breath.

  6. We need real and a simple key focus on basic community needs .. keep people engaged .. .. infrastructure sorted housing and local business… alongside simplifying of local red tape .. and an enabling attitude… alongside community endorsement. the can’t culture needs parking up for now … this structure seems diluted to meet our immediate recovery needs ..

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