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Government Budget Looks Promising For Hawke’s Bay Local Roading Recovery But More Information Needed

The Government’s 2024 Budget is out, and early indications look promising for Hawke’s Bay’s local roading recovery, at least for the next twelve months.

The region’s leaders say until detailed funding processes are worked through, it is too early to conclude what portion of transport funding announced today will be allocated specifically to Hawke’s Bay.

“Gabrielle was a once-in-a-generation event, wreaking havoc on Hawke’s Bay’s transport network,” says Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst.

She says rebuilding from this event continues to be the top priority for the region’s councils.

“Today’s Budget announcement provides funding to address local roading recovery for regions’ impacted by the North Island weather events in 2023.

“Whilst this is a positive start, we now need to work through the detail around how much is coming to Hawke’s Bay and what this will cover.”

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker says with a currently unfunded price tag of $700m remaining for local roading repairs, this is a burden the region’s ratepayers cannot shoulder alone.

“In Central Hawke’s Bay for example, without additional support the district faces decades worth of work at the current government funding rate or, alternatively, rate rises that would cripple the community for years to come.”

In all engagements with Central Government to date, a consistent message has been delivered about the need for further support with rebuilding severely damaged local roads and bridges.

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She says restoring vital market-to-gate transport connections to support the region’s primary sector is key to reviving the local economy.

“Specifically, we asked for a combination of enhanced funding rates and bespoke additional funding assistance that would see Central Government cover the cost of most of the remaining roading repairs, with the balance to be funded through council rates.

“This would see us get our primary sector and overall economy back on its feet sooner and reposition Hawke’s Bay as a critical player in helping this government with its goal of doubling the value of exports in the next ten years.”

During the election campaign, National committed to building a four-lane expressway in Hawke’s Bay, upgrading State Highway 5, and restoring and upgrading State Highway 2 between Napier, Wairoa, and Gisborne.

More detail is needed on what Budget announcements and the soon to be finalised Government Policy Statement mean for these projects.

Napier Mayor, Kirsten Wise says the region is looking forward to details about how and when these projects will be delivered.

“We welcome Central Government’s commitment to investing in new and future-proofed infrastructure across New Zealand but remain cognisant of the fact that here in Hawke’s Bay we have been set back years if not decades by this event. Our focus is getting the region back on its feet and moving again.”

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says depending on the full outcome of the Budget, the region’s leaders will continue advocating for the level of funding required to meet the needs in Hawke’s Bay.

“We are confident that as a region we have only asked for what we need and can deliver to support our recovery from the Cyclone. We remain committed to continuing to work as a credible partner with central Government in driving economic and community recovery.”

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair, Hinewai Ormsby says Hawke’s Bay has several other key recovery priorities, as outlined in the briefing to incoming minister in November last year.

“A key piece of the puzzle which feeds into every aspect of our recovery in Hawke’s Bay revolves around resilience - whether it be in the environment, economy, whānau and community well-being, the primary sector or the region’s infrastructure.

“We are really keen to understand how this Budget will support the regions like ours to become more resilient to future severe weather events like what we experienced during Cyclone Gabrielle.”

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