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Hokianga Flood Damage Was Avoidable - Elder

Media Release
Hon Jack Elder
Minister of Civil Defence

12 July 1999


The Far North District Council is to receive further Government assistance of $345,000 for recovery of the Hokianga communities hit by flooding in January this year, the Minister of Civil Defence, Jack Elder announced today.

Government assistance paid out to the Far North for the damage caused by the January floods totals approximately $3.8 million. This amount does not include the substantial assistance given by the Defence Forces and other government agencies at the time.

Mr Elder said a major proportion of the damage would have been prevented if flood and river management had been undertaken and appropriate measures were in place.

“The Government was disappointed and concerned at the lack of flood mitigation activities undertaken by the Far North District Council and Northland Regional Council," Mr Elder said. "These two councils are the responsible authorities for ensuring that their communities are as safe as possible from destructive floods.”

The Far North District Council had sought more than a million dollars from the Government for response and recovery from the floods. This involved $350,315 for the full cost of emergency response, $451,688 for recovery works and a further grant of almost $300,000 for the Mayoral Relief Fund.

Mr Elder said that while the Government is treating the Far North recovery request as a special case, it was not prepared to meet the full costs claimed by the Far North District Council. He said this was because most of the claim did not meet the criteria laid down in the long-established national Civil Defence Recovery Plan.

“As continued risk to life and major community disruption would be likely from future floods, the Government wants to provide for the long term resilience of these Far North communities," Mr Elder said. "We must therefore ensure that essential remedial work is carried out immediately.

“We are proposing that the Far North District Council, the Northland Regional Council join with us, each contributing $251,000, to fund the recovery measures. "These measures will include some river protection works as well as shifting and lifting houses in the flood plain.

“This approach recognises the local authorities' responsibilities for river, flood and land use management, hazard control, community resilience and the Government’s willingness to help ensure that effective long term solutions are put in place. We must take steps to ensure the safety and well being of citizens.”

The Government’s contribution is conditional on the Far North District Council and the Northland Regional Council introducing improvements to ensure that their communities are resilient to severe flood events in the future.

Mr Elder said the Government is requiring the local authorities to demonstrate that :
a risk management regime for the entire Far North district, based on the consequences of its hazardscape, is developed and implemented;

a risk analysis for flooding is undertaken, appropriate mitigation options identified and reasonable timelines prepared for implementation of options;

appropriate land use planning and enforcement of relevant building controls (including minimum building heights for houses in flood plains) is implemented immediately.

Mr Elder said the partnership approach will free up $256,000 in the Mayoral Relief Fund that would otherwise have been used to shift and lift houses. The Fund stands at $554,000 with an additional $200,000 of donated goods.

Mr Elder said the grants come on top of considerable Government assistance earlier this year with an estimated $3.5 million to re-establish Panguru School, $100,000 of Task Force Green assistance for flood clean up, $30,000 to the Mayoral Relief Fund and $15,000 to Marae which housed evacuees. Transit NZ is also contributing $64,000 for road works.


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