Storm Anxiety

Hawke's Bay StormsMajor storms sweeping the country are now the cause of apoplectic nightmares for Hawke’s Bay council’s. Every rain event carries the potential to inundate vulnerable flood control systems, particularly in Napier. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Napier City Council were given a rude shock in November 2020. In a 24-hour rain burst, the city’s flood protection was overwhelmed. Suburbs turned into lakes with over $100 million of damage and hundreds of houses ruined.

With much of Napier City built on land at or below sea level, a lack of storm preparedness came home to roost for our somnolent council’s. The storm water system can only cope with a one in ten year event. Climate change means such events now arise at least on an annual basis. 

Flood event reports highlighted the lack of investment and preparedness. In the 18 months since, officials have worked diligently on their plans. Several upgrades to pumping equipment and telemetry worth over $1million have been made. Power supply to pumps has improved.  Warning systems and control gates will improve response times. But still, the major threat remains. Expenditure to date is a drop in the bucket when the risks are assessed. To achieve the needed one in fifty-year protection, over $100million is urgently required. The catastrophic nature of Napier’s flooding, however has not deterred proposals to build more houses in really dumb places.  A consortium including Government housing provider Kainga Ora, iwi groups and private developers want to use the Government’s “fast-track” legislation to build over 670 houses. The site is right in the middle of Napier South’s flood detention zone at Riverbend Road.

Fast track means bypassing public consultation processes and the intense scrutiny such a risky scheme means to Napier residents.  Greed and stupidity are the usual motivators for dumb ideas. There is no shortage of both in this proposal.  The sad reality is that Napier South householders are disproportionately affected in flood events. Many do not have insurance.  Many will be Maori.  It’s even more disconcerting to see iwi involvement in the scheme. Government agency involvement and endorsement by the Ministry for the Environment,  is a disgrace and totally contradictory in the face if climate change.  Napier residents will pay the price for this folly for the next 50 years. Houses are desperately needed but this proposal should be condemned in the strongest terms.

Your voice is important and you can help shape the outcome for all Hawke’s Bay locals by putting your views before the council. I will listen to your ideas and help shape policies, proposals and plans on your behalf. Let’s make a difference together, feel free to contact me today, I’d love to hear your thoughts – Neil Kirton, click here.