22 Mar 2023

Cyclone Gabrielle: Robertson warns of delays to rebuild decisions

4:08 pm on 22 March 2023
Grant Robertson

Finance and Cyclone Recovery Minister Grant Robertson. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The government says it should have details on which weather-hit areas are high risk within three weeks, and can then make decisions about rebuilding.

In a statement, Cyclone Recovery Minister Grant Robertson said the taskforce led by Sir Brian Roche was working with insurance companies after the Auckland Anniversary floods and Cyclone Gabrielle.

They expected to have details on high-risk areas from them within the next week.

That data would then be combined and compared with council risk assessments by mid-April, and the government could then agree on next steps.

Robertson said he wanted to have the information available to the public as fast as possible and would continue pushing for that, but the government was aware of people's need for certainty, and it was important to make the right decisions - not the fastest or easiest ones.

"Having a red or yellow sticker on your property does not necessarily mean that a location will be deemed high-risk or that the land can't be rebuilt upon. These are assessments of immediate safety risk at the location, not future risk of flooding or viability of the land," he said.

"That means we can't simply use that assessment for this process, we'd get the wrong answers affected people and property. That's why we are working with the insurance sector and local councils to get the best outcome."

He said each region had been affected differently, comparing Hawke's Bay's orchards with residential homes flooded in Auckland.

"The reality is the complexities involved mean it cannot be completed in just a few weeks.

"It's worth noting that after the Canterbury earthquakes it was four months before decisions were taken on the future of affected areas. We want to move quicker than that, but it gives an indication of some of the challenges to making decisions."

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