29 Aug 2023

More uncertainty for some Muriwai residents as Auckland Council categorises storm-damaged homes

11:17 am on 29 August 2023
Slips at Muriwai following Cyclone Gabrielle.

Photo: RNZ / Finn Blackwell

Some storm-damaged properties in West Auckland's Muriwai have been categorised - but the process is leading to more uncertainty and distress for residents.

Twenty-seven home owners have been told they qualify for the buy-out scheme but decisions have not been made about 41 others.

Auckland Council said that was because it was still unknown whether engineering work to the homes would reduce their risk.

Deputy group recovery manager Mace Ward said the council was seeking more advice from its geotechnical engineers on the options.

"It is about some more property level information - are there any options that would assure that property and that home would be a safe place to live?" Ward said.

Muriwai Stickered Residents Group chairperson Mike Hibbert said it was more uncertainty and people were distressed.

Even those who had been told they qualify for a buy-out were unsure about the next steps, he said.

Caroline Bell-Booth's Muriwai home was a Category 3 and initially, she was relieved by the decision.

"This was a decision whereby the science and the data backed what I could see - with no geotechnical knowledge - with my eyes and feel in my heart from the moment I returned to my home having been evacuated on the night of the cyclone."

The council reserve behind her home, and a number of her neighbours, inundated a series of homes including hers, she said.

"The next step for me and my husband will be to understand the valuation calculation because whilst it's wonderful to have the relief that one qualifies for a buy-out, if one doesn't understand what that buy-out entails then one is still waiting with baited breath so to speak."

She hoped the buyout would be like-for-like.

"I'm certainly hoping that it's a you break it, you buy it, type situation."

Muriwai resident Melissa Dickenson has a Category 2/3 home and said she was rather envious of Bell-Booth's security.

Dickenson told Morning Report she thought her home would be a Category 3, especially as homes over the road from her were.

"'I'm in a state of shock somewhat."

But she said there would not be a one-fits-all solution for residents.

"I'm hopeful that when they re-investigate and keep looking, that for me there could be a solution that I would like.

"Interestingly a 2/3 for my neighbour ... she doesn't want the buy-out, so everybody has their own story about what they're wanting to have happen in Muriwai."

Ward said owners of flood-damaged homes should know how much they would be paid out by October.

He told Morning Report the council would have more details for those residents after public consultation next month.

"We do need to go out and consult Aucklanders about the Auckland Council's funding portion of that $2 billion, so that will occur over September and then we have a goal of late October of being able to go out to people with buy-out options."

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