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Hopes For $7m To Protect South Westland Community

The West Coast Regional Council hopes to gain about $7million of new Government infrastructure money to pour into the region's largest river protection scheme.

But whether the ratepayers who contribute to the Wanganui (River) Rating District at Hari Hari are willing to pay a share in a co-funding deal with the Government remains to be seen.

Property owners in the district already pay a special rate to protect their local area from flooding.

But managing the river is increasingly challenging.

The matter of paying more was canvassed with members of the Wanganui (special) Rating District during its annual meeting in Hari Hari on June 20.

Rating district spokesman Jon Sullivan said he personally had "no appetite" to borrow money -- given their special rates contribution was already well over $200,000 a year.

"As far as going to borrow a huge sum and getting mortgaged up for 30 years -- bugger that," Mr Sullivan said.

His sentiment was echoed by other rating district members through the meeting.

West Coast Regional Council chairman Peter Haddock said the council hoped to win something out of new flood infrastructure funding initiatives by the Government.

He detailed the Before the Deluge funding initiative, advocated by the regional councils sector under Te Uri Kahika, and predicated on beneficiaries of funding under that contributing a share.

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Cr Haddock said it meant communities like Hari Hari could be asked to contribute at least 25% to anything put up by the Government.

"You would need to have an appetite for that."

The rating district in 2022 rejected a similar funding proposal by council.

Cr Haddock said the previous Before the Deluge co-funding assumption was for a 25% contribution from the beneficiaries of new flood resilience money.

But the Government was now signalling anything up to a 40% contribution.

Based on the $7 million improvement scheme council intended for the Wanganui River, about $1.7million of that would have to be a loan against the rating district.

Council chief executive Darryl Lew said the Before the Deluge vision put up 80 projects nationally.
Conversations about which will be prioritised were ongoing with the Government.

Mr Lew said at the same time the new Regional Infrastructure Fund announced in the May Budget had allocated $102 million in the first year.

The council was prioritising the Waiho River area at Franz Josef in year one and intended to apply for the Wanganui River scheme in the next round.

"Wanganui is definitely on the list. From the West Coast point of view it will be next cab off the rank."

However any co-funding could be based on a 60/40 split condition, Mr Lew said.

"We're still in the mix: it will be year two/year three if the Government comes to the party," he said.
Cr Haddock said it would be good to know if the rating district was open to funding its share.

The matter is expected to be canvassed again at a catchup meeting of the rating district in October.

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