8 Feb 2023

'There's a lot of fear out there': Call for Royal Commission on Auckland floods

9:58 am on 8 February 2023
Christine Fletcher at a Council meeting about the Unitary Plan. 10 August 2016.

Christine Fletcher was Auckland City mayor between 1998 and 2001. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Former Auckland mayor Christine Fletcher is calling for a royal commission of inquiry into the underlying infrastructure issues revealed by the floods.

Deputy mayor Desley Simpson said she thought there would be a government inquiry, as well as the already announced review into the emergency response that was due to report back next month.

Fletcher, who is also a former MP, said the city and country needed to pause and take stock.

She wanted an infrastructure audit and then a public inquiry.

The impact of the floods would probably be larger than that of the Christchurch earthquakes, she said.

Auckland's housing and infrastructure capacity and its flood risks would need to be assessed for the sake of future generations, she said.

"I see properties continuing to be consented in areas that are going to be flooded into the future. So perhaps there is something that the government can do in terms of considering a royal commission into the Auckland flooding situation."

People who contacted her were afraid of what was coming next, including more rain in the coming week, she said.

"They're frightened. We know that there potentially could be another storm this weekend and they just don't know what to do to protect themselves. And when that water comes through, it's not just cleaning up water in your house. It's the contaminants that go with it, and the fears that you've got of mould and the impact on the health of the children. There's a lot of fear out there at the moment."

Councillor Daniel Newman said the emergency response must be addressed - and agreed there were broader issues to look at.

"There are questions now as to whether council was in a position to respond, whether an interagency response was effective and whether Aucklanders got the support that they needed, they deserved, and whether we have the ability to do better in the future. We have to do better."

Schools were now back and damaged roads and detours have added to the usual congestion.

Franklin councillor Andy Baker used to be a Civil Defence officer. He said he was keeping his views on the response to himself until the flooding review took place.

But he also wanted an in-depth look at how Auckland became so vulnerable.

"I hope it goes deep enough that we look at our political decision-making years and the years leading up to this, because they certainly have a bearing on how our organisation responds."

Auckland council said it was door-knocking in the worst affected areas, and carrying out aerial surveys to help assessments.

Residents who cannot take waste to transfer stations can call the council helpline on 0800 22 22 00.

People who want to volunteer or need help can also make contact through volunteeringauckland.org.nz.

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