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Cabinet agrees funding to help rebuild Matata

Cabinet agrees funding to help rebuild Matata

Civil Defence Minister Rick Barker was delighted to announce Cabinet agreed today to contribute a further $3 million to help rebuild Matata.

Mr Barker said "this money will help the Whakatane District Council, the people of Matata and other agencies to rebuild the township and be confident that the disastrous and life-threatening flooding that hit the area in May will not happen again.

Government had indicated its willingness to consider supporting the Whakatane Distrcit Council's Matata regeneration package, and noted that there have been precedents for the government contributing up to one third of the capital costs of measures to reduce future risk in particular circumstances.

"Working collaboratively with central and local agencies and the community, we have come through. In total, government expenditure on response and recovery and risk mitigation for the Matata area is likely to top $20.8 million.

“Without this assistance the major civil engineering work necessary to enable Matata to safely regenerate would be unaffordable for the District Council and would place an unsustainable burden on the district’s ratepayers," said Mr Barker.

The assistance package will help fund the proposed civil engineering works and other works around the town. These include:

A 17-metre high debris dam on the Awatarariki Stream

A bund on the side of the Waitepuru Stream to control the direction of future debris flows

An ex-gratia $100,000 payment to the District Council to help employ a manager for two years to oversee the regeneration project

A decision on funding to help manage the effects of flooding on the Matata Lagoon – of which the western end was devastated in the May floods has been defferred for a report to be developed and for further consultation

Construction of the debris dam and bund is expected to necessitate the purchase of a small number of neighbouring properties.

The Government assistance package will also contribute to flood-proofing upgrades of State Highway 2 and the rail line linking Kawerau and the Port of Tauranga – which both pass through the township and which were both badly damaged in the May floods. This will include expanding and realigning culverts and upgrading bridges. The total cost is likely to be around $4.5 million for State Highway-related works and $3,875,000 for rail-related works.

Mr Barker says that Transit New Zealand and ONTRACK have both responded positively to the Whakatane District Council’s requests that the road and rail infrastructure be configured so as reduce the risk of future flooding to the Matata area.

Mr Barker congratulated the Whakatane District Council, Transit New Zealand, ONTRACK and the Matata community for their work on preparing the regeneration plan.

“It’s been a difficult time for all concerned since the May floods – but I’m pleased that the effort that went into the Council’s business case has paid off – because the business case is a good one and it signals a renewed, bright future of Matata.

“This is the first time that the Government has taken the approach of encouraging the affected community to develop an integrated regeneration package straight after a civil defence emergency.

Mr Barker noted that it has taken four months to design a set of solutions, and three months for the community to decide on the options it wanted. This amount of time was necessary to reach a solution that was both sound and supported by the council and its community.

"The Matata package had come out of a good process and I'm delighted that we have met the deadline and found a resolution.

"We have a plan for the future, the Whakatane District Council and the Government have committed the funds and we can now start to rebuild Matata.

"The Wait is over," said Mr Barker.

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