Urgent work to clean up cyclone-affected regions will continue, thanks to a $63 million boost from the Government for sediment and debris removal in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.
The funding will help local councils continue urgent work removing and disposing of sediment and debris left from Cyclone Gabrielle.
“This additional funding means these regions can continue with the job clearing sediment from high priority areas,” Emergency Management and Recovery Minister Mark Mitchell said.
“It also means work can continue to remove woody debris to prevent any further damage to infrastructure and local communities,” Mitchell said.
“Our immediate focus has been to visit regions, talk to affected people and find out what their needs are, and this funding reflects our commitment to ensuring momentum is continued.”
As part of the new funding, $40m will go to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for urgent work to continue to remove sediment and debris in the region. This includes $3m ringfenced for debris removal in Wairoa.
“The Hawke’s Bay Silt Recovery Taskforce has done a tremendous job clearing more than 2.5 million tonnes of sediment and debris, as well as more than 140,000 tonnes of woody debris,” Mitchell said.
“The Gisborne District Council will receive $23.6 million to ensure urgent work will continue for the processing and removal of woody debris across the region.”
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon shaking hands with Daniel Pietersma, 20, who experienced Cyclone Gabrielle's flooding first-hand on their Puketapu farm with his family. Photo / Connull Lang
Nearly 165,000 tonnes of woody debris have been removed from Tairāwhiti.
“This Government is fully committed to the recovery and we are working with local authorities to identify how we can make it go faster,” Mitchell said.
This brings the Government’s total funding to $232m for the clean-up of sediment and debris across Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chair Hinewai Ormsby said the funding would allow the Silt Recovery Taskforce to regain momentum and work to restore more of the region’s productive land in the process.
“This will provide certainty for our local growers and producers and support the much-needed economic recovery of the region’s primary sector,” Ormsby said.
At the end of last year, just over half of the silt and debris work had been completed, meaning there was still a lot to do, she said.
“With this new funding we can remove and dispose of around 600,000 more cubic metres of sediment and debris, unlocking a further 650 hectares of land that will be returned to viable productive uses.”
Silt Recovery Taskforce lead Darren de Klerk said programming is already in place for how and where the funding will be used.
“While we will do our best to clear as much of the remaining work as we can, the team will be focusing on high-priority sites first,” de Klerk said.
“Today’s announcement is timely as without additional funding we are facing the closure and remediation of collection sites which would have flow-on effects in terms of resecuring workforce down the line.”
Hastings District Council Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it would be a good boost for local employment.
Hazlehurst says whilst removing and disposing of silt and debris from productive land is key to the region’s recovery, it is still only one piece of the puzzle.
“In terms of the bigger picture, the more efficiently the taskforce is able to finish the silt and debris mahi, the sooner resources and workforce personnel can be refocused to other projects such as those to repair roading and other infrastructure damaged in Cyclone Gabrielle.”
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