Matatā debris flows: Residents to be offered market value

8:54 pm on 16 July 2019

Matatā residents whose homes are at risk from deadly debris flows will be offered market value for their properties if they want to leave, Whakatāne's district council has announced.

Some residential homes in Matata have been told by council that they are in an area at threat of a deadly landslip but residents don't agree.

The Whakatāne District Council wants to make a district plan change which would rezone the Awatarariki fanhead including Matatā as uninhabitable. Photo: RNZ / Brad White

The homeowners met in private with Whakatāne District Council bosses this evening to be presented with a new joint acquisition package.

In May 2005, a torrential downpour washed boulders, logs and other debris down the flooded Awatarariki Stream, destroying 27 homes in Matatā and racking up a bill of $20 million.

Residents were allowed back into the area in 2006 because the council believed it could build a structure to contain debris in a similar event, but six years later it gave up on that idea saying the area was a "high loss of life risk zone" and managed retreat was the only viable option.

The council wanted to make a district plan change which would rezone the Awatarariki fanhead, including Matatā, as uninhabitable and in 2017 an indicative offer of $15 million for 34 properties - although it said it could not afford to pay for them alone.

Whakatāne mayor Tony Bonne said residents would be offered market value for their properties - with no discount for the known debris flow risk - plus contributions to legal and relocation costs.

"Owner participation is voluntary, but we believe the managed retreat package offers a fair solution which will allow property owners to move on with their lives," he said in a statement.

The government put in $5m, with the District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council providing the rest.

Matatā resident Rachel Walley said she and her family did not want to leave, and while some of her neighbours were fed up with the situation and decided to accept an offer she would have to be carried out.

"We gave up everything to come here so there's nowhere else we're going to be so, we're not leaving."

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