8 Dec 2023

Watch: Luxon on Hawke's Bay cyclone recovery: 'We don't want to turn all that upside down'

3:57 pm on 8 December 2023

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says the new government is going to continue everything that the previous government put into place to help with the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

Luxon has been in Wairoa this morning to gauge progress of the town's recovery from the cyclone and is meeting with several Hawke's Bay mayors.

Luxon has met with Wairoa Mayor Craig Little and toured damaged sites in the town, including Takitimu Marae where the floodwaters swept through leaving a thick layer of silt.

Wairoa was badly hit by Cyclone Gabrielle with scores displaced and a section of State Highway 2 between Wairoa and Napier washed out. In October, Little told RNZ between $60 million and $100m of work needed to be carried out in the town to prevent similar disasters.

Luxon said today the government is committed to being in Hawke's Bay engaging with the local community.

"A really good day to actually say we're going to continue everything that the previous government has put into place, we don't want to turn all that upside down."

Luxon said on the way down his team saw the state of the roads and the challenges the region faces during cyclone recovery.

"We want to get an assessment of what is actually needed, some of it will be money and some of it will be regulation."

Luxon said he wanted to avoid "more talk and more consultation where nothing gets done".

"It's good to get a sense of the priorities of where we can put the emphasis and the push."

Luxon said conversations with local mayors and leaders had proved invaluable.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, left, speaks with reporters in Napier.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, left, speaks with reporters in Napier. Photo: RNZ / Kate Green

"I think the community here has been very well represented by leaders."

Luxon said part of his government's 100-day actions plan was getting on the ground repeatedly in the region.

"That's job number one, to make sure we've got a good assessment."

Earlier, Little said he told the prime minister flood protection was top priority because the town did not have any.

There were still 130 homes that were unliveable and half of them were uninsured, he said.

Little also told Luxon he wanted State Highway 2 fixed, because it was continually closed due to slips in poor weather.

Asked what he can actually do about the dismal state of SH2 between Wairoa and Napier, Luxon said there was "a big conversation to happen on State Highway 2".

A railway was a lower priority, he said.

"The bottom line for me is that the Napier to Wairoa rail link has been poorly utilised," and that money could go to other things, Luxon said.

Wairoa had not been forgotten, Luxon said.

"It's not forgotten, that's what we wanted them to understand by us all coming here today."

In the government's plan for its 100 days, two of the 49 items related directly to cyclone and flood recovery:

  • Meet with councils and communities to establish regional requirements for recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent major flooding events
  • Make any additional Orders in Council needed to speed up cyclone and flood recovery efforts

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