Storm Events Demand Our Urgent Attention!

Napier Flooding

One and a half years have passed since one of Napier’s most significant flood events in decades. Yet in recent days we have seen more torrential rain, raging rivers and monstrous seas pounding our coast. Mother nature is trying to tell us something! Climate change is no longer an ethereal spectre for some future generation to deal with. Climate change is now! An early morning mid-storm tour of Napier revealed our flood management system coping well. Dedicated and hard working regional and city council staff were well prepared this time.

Teams worked all night to ensure properties stayed dry. These people deserve our grateful thanks for defending a system designed to protect the city from the now annual one in ten-year storm events. Even with greater vigilance and better operation of existing storm water assets, the day will come again soon when this severely lacking storm protection will be over-run.

Property losses on a massive scale are inevitable. City and regional councillors are focusing on solutions. Many millions are planned to be spent on mitigation strategies to protect our communities. Stop banks are being raised. Storm water system improvements are planned over the next 30 years. Implementation of the Clifton to Tangoio coastal hazards strategy is about to be signed off. Over the past decade, protecting coastal properties has taken priority for politicians and public servants alike. Ratepayers across the region will soon face a substantial increase to fund the $15million cost of sea wall and groin protection. Many years and millions of dollars have been spent so far on developing the strategy.

Plans for the southern Clifton, Te Awanga zone include dumping 120,000 cubic metres of rock into the sea. That’s about 30,000 truck loads trundling along our roads. The carbon footprint alone is a worry let alone the effects on the marine environment. And the outcome for all this effort and expense? A recent Hawke’s Bay Today image captured the enormous power of the sea. Trying to tame its fury is folly. Yet here we are as a community, on the cusp of attempting to do just that. The sea will win! Ratepayers will foot the bill.

In 20 years, another generation of ratepayers will pick up the tab for the inevitable retreat from its relentless surge. There needs to be a reality check on what coastal assets should be protected and those a managed exit is the most sustainable solution. Meanwhile, Napier communities, involving several thousand properties, face clear and present danger from storm events occurring with monotonous regularity. Protecting their properties is a long way off.

Perhaps the council can issue gumboots to suburban householders, at the same time as rate demands are sent out to fund the protection of coastal properties! Ratepayers have a right to expect equitable decision making, based on highest and urgent need. The loud and singularly focused coastal voices have high jacked the conversation, political patronage and now ratepayer dollars. Napier residents exposed to devastating flooding deserve much better than to expect something to happen within the next 30 years. Action is needed urgently now! 

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.