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Marlborough Sounds Future Access Study Wins National Award

Marlborough District Council’s Marlborough Sounds Future Access Study has won the Community Engagement category in the 2023 EMPA New Zealand Awards for Excellence in Emergency Communication.

The award was presented at the Emergency Media and Public Affairs NZ (EMPA) conference dinner last night at Te Papa in Wellington. Mayor Nadine Taylor was on hand to accept the accolade.

The Marlborough Sounds Future Access Study (MFAS) is a wide-ranging communications and engagement programme led by Council with engineering consultancy Stantec and Publik, a public relations agency, who both assisted with the communications and community engagement programme.

“This award reflects the extensive community engagement done to date. While we are not at the end of our journey, I am proud of the way Council has stepped up to face this challenge. I particularly want to acknowledge the Marlborough Sounds community for whom this long road to recovery continues and whose involvement in this study was critical and hugely valued,” Mayor Taylor said.

Council’s objective through the study has been to provide a safe and resilient transport network for residents, homeowners and businesses in affected areas of the Marlborough Sounds following damage from significant storm events in July 2021 and August 2022.

People were displaced from their homes due to the risk from slips and impacts on dwellings following water damage, structural damage or land instability. Damage to the roading network and marine services again resulted in the isolation of numerous communities.

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Thirty-two properties were red stickered and 63 yellow stickered due to the damage sustained in the August 2022 event, which was more extensive and widespread than the previous 2021 event. Most of these properties face high or moderate risk from on-going land instability. The transport repair programme is estimated to be in the order of $234M.

The Marlborough Sounds is a rural area with a population that is up to four hours’ drive to the nearest main population centre, with many having their principal home outside of the region. Despite these challenges well over a thousand people engaged face-to-face, alongside regular e-communication, videos, and well-designed documentation. Record numbers of people participated in two community surveys – over 900 and 1,700 respectively.

“The MSFAS is designed to provide long-term certainty for businesses and residents impacted by these storm events in the Sounds and considers the impacts of changes in weather patterns caused by climate change,” Mayor Taylor said.

“The aim is to map a pathway for the short-term while understanding the implications for the long term. It was identified early on that the conversation about the long term was needed now. Residents and businesses have been vociferous in their demands for the reinstatement of the network. “

The 532-page Programme Business Case prepared as a result of the community engagement process was recently submitted to Waka Kotahi for funding consideration.

For the full scope of Marlborough Sounds Future Access Study community engagement programme go to:

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