Hinewai Ormsby, HBRC Chair

Difficult and expensive choices ahead.

An independent review of Hawke’s Bay’s flood protection and drainage systems will get underway in May, HBRC chair Hinewai Ormsby says.

The review is expected to take six months to complete at an approximate cost of $700,000, and will be funded through general rates.

It will look at how flood protection assets, and associated systems such as communications, performed during Cyclone Gabrielle. Specifically, how they were intended to perform and what the severity of Gabrielle was in relation to that. It will look at how those protections were maintained and operated prior to, during and after the storm.

The review will recommend improvements to the service, maintenance and operations requirements for future weather events, and with regard to climate change.

Ormsby said the devastating impact of Cyclone Gabrielle highlighted how many systems residents relied on in an emergency.

“This review is not about apportioning blame – it is about taking the learnings to identify where improvements can be made to better safeguard our communities and to support investment decisions related to the long-term regional recovery planning already underway,” she said.

An environmental planner, Phil Mitchell has been appointed to chair the review panel.

HBRC’s interim chief executive Bill Bayfield will finalise the terms of reference and appoint the review panel members before the end of May.

Ormsby said the terms of reference were intended to provide transparency for people in Hawke’s Bay affected by the flood and wider stakeholders. They won’t focus on Civil Defence, which is subject to a separate review already underway, nor on systems that were the statutory responsibility of other entities.

The public will have a chance to ask questions in an open online session that will take place after the panel is in place, 

“The independent review panel will ensure members of the community are given the opportunity to participate, in addition to seeking input from council and third-party experts. Further detail will be published on the council website along with the terms of reference and panel members around mid-May,” Ormsby said.

Recommendations would guide future decision making, especially immediate steps that needed to be taken. Ormbsy said long term recommendations were likely to highlight difficult and expensive choices, and the need for challenging trade-offs. Because of this any recommendations would be non-binding.

Public interest journalism funded by New Zealand on Air.


Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Because of this any recommendations would be non-binding.

    This last line worries me…. Another review with ‘recommendations’ ending up in a bottom drawer so nothing more than an expensive talk-fest?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *