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Hawke’s Bay Independent Flood Review Underway

Hawke’s Bay, 13 October 2023 – The process to independently review the performance of Hawke’s Bay’s flood scheme assets and river management programmes in response to Cyclone Gabrielle is underway.

The Review has been instigated by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle and the flooding that significantly impacted the region. The Review is independent of the Council and covers all of Hawke’s Bay from Wairoa to Pōrangahau.

The purpose of the Review is to seek to understand the circumstances and contributing factors that led to the flooding. This includes looking at flood management schemes and programmes and how each performed, the decisions made by the Council during the cyclone, and whether these remain viable.

The Review will also consider and recommend a wider range of total catchment options to make the schemes and programmes more resilient into the future.

The Review is not looking at district or city council roles/responsibilities during the cyclone, the local civil defence emergency management response, or the recovery phase of the flood event.

A panel of three independent reviewers is conducting the Review, with experience in resource management, engineering and the law, as well as experience in these types of reviews. The independent panel are Dr Phil Mitchell (chair), Bernadette Arapere and Kyle Christensen.

Since their appointment in August, the panel has commenced the process of information gathering and completed planning their approach to engaging with flood-affected communities. Panel Chair Phil Mitchell says that it was important to get community input to guide the panel in the planning stage.

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“Preliminary discussions with some key communities have helped us verify the process for the review and were vital to ensure we make it easy for people to share with us any information they have that can help inform our review. Today we have launched a website ( and at the end of this month it will include a facility through which people will be able to contribute information.”

Phil Mitchell says the panel will be keen to hear from people about:

  • their experience of river management and the maintenance of flood management assets prior to the cyclone
  • what they saw happen to rivers and flood management assets during the cyclone
  • their ideas about how flood risk can be better managed in future.

“The upcoming community input phase will be supported by public information so that people know how to get involved, the type of information the panel is looking for, and how to supply information,” says Dr Mitchell.

The Review is expected to be completed by the end of May 2024.

There is further information about the Independent Flood Review at

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