23 Nov 2023

Auckland Council offers funds for homes at risk from natural hazards

5:17 am on 23 November 2023
Oakley Creek overflowed in Walmsley Park, Mt albert causing flooding on properties nearby on 9 May, 2023.

Flooding in Auckland earlier this year. Photo: RNZ / Finn Blackwell

Auckland Council is to vote on the way forward for homes damaged by floods and slips that can be salvaged if work is done to protect them from future hazards.

Aleysha Knowles is in an awkward situation. Her home in Birkenhead was significantly damaged by slips during the Auckland Anniversary storms.

But while her neighbour's property - a townhouse in the same unit as hers - is damaged beyond repair, Knowles' home is mostly intact.

"The neighbouring property is severely impacted, and my house is cracking off her house," she said. "So she's red-stickered and I'm yellow-stickered."

Knowles expected her house to be put in Category 2P - one step down from the most severe Category 3.

Waitākere Ward Councillor Shane Henderson said people like her would be offered 25 percent of their home's capital value to spend on repairs and risk mitigation.

"If you've been put in Category 3 you get bought out and you can move on," he said. "But if you're in 2P you may need to incur costs to make sure that your home is safe, for example you might need to build things like retaining walls.

Knowles said that was a great start.

"What I like is that they are making moves towards helping people stay in their homes. The Category 3 buyout doesn't work for me - it would leave me bankrupt - so this gives me hope that I will be able to stay in my house."

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 14: A large landslide threatens houses in the coastal suburb of Muriwai following Cyclone Gabrielle on February 14, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand has declared a national state of emergency with flooding and landslides devastating several communities. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

A home in Muriwai at risk from a landslide in early 2023. Photo: Getty Images / Phil Walter

But she worried the funding offered by council would not be enough to pay for the repairs her house needed.

"Knowing what my CV is, and what that 25 percent is, I do think it falls quite significantly short," she said.

"In my case they need to build a very large palisade retaining wall in the bush, with limited access, so we're talking about helicoptering in equipment."

Auckland Council said homeowners would be responsible for project management and had a two-year deadline to get the work completed.

Henderson said the Category 2P property risk mitigation scheme would share its funding with the Category 3 buyout scheme.

"We're advocating to government to try and allocate some of that Category 3 money to 2P," he said. "We're trying to help people stay in their homes if they need, so that seems a no-brainer to me. We need to work within the same envelope that we have."

West Auckland Is Flooding chair Lyall Carter was worried that could mean less money for the buyouts.

"If they're paying for it out of the $2 billion package that was towards Category 3 buyouts - if it's coming from that same pool - who is going to miss out?"

But none of this could happen until homeowners received their categorisations.

Auckland councillor Shane Henderson and Detail co-host Sharon Brettkelly wearing hi-vis, standing on the side of a damaged road.

Auckland Councillor Shane Henderson and Detail co-host Sharon Brettkelly wearing hi-vis, standing on the side of a damaged West Auckland road in January. Photo: Supplied

Knowles said her community was getting impatient.

"The sentiment is [that there's] a lot of questions. We aren't sure how long it will take - we've already waited 10 months with no answers.

"We aren't informed, we aren't kept up to date. The most worry is around the lack of information from the council."

Henderson said the council was working as fast as it could.

"We're still working through the categorisations community by community, but we're working through it as quickly as we can."

Carter was not so optimistic.

"There is a real possibility that we'll come up to the anniversary of the floods, and there will be a large number of homeowners that still haven't been categorised."

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