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Cyclone inquiry board appointed

Cyclone Gabrielle ripped through Wairarapa in February, leaving the community of Tinui isolated for days without power and numerous farms covered in silt.

Now, four people have been appointed to the government inquiry into the North Island’s severe weather events response.

Minister for Emergency Management and Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty announced further appointments to the government inquiry on Monday.

Sir Jerry Mateparae was announced as chair two weeks ago and will be joined on the inquiry by John Ombler, Julie Greene, and Rangimarie Hunia.

McAnulty said members of the inquiry have broad knowledge and experience across a wide range of relevant areas, including governance, primary sector and rural communities, emergency response and recovery, and iwi and Māori development.

Ombler has held numerous senior public service leadership roles, including deputy state services commissioner and chief executive of the Canterbury earthquake recovery authority, and was one of the controllers of the all-of-government response during the covid-19 pandemic, McAnulty said.

Greene, who is based in Hawke’s Bay, brings over two decades of experience across the horticulture and rural sector within New Zealand, including senior leadership roles at Heinz Watties.

Rangimarie Hunia has significant governance experience through her current roles as director of Moana New Zealand, chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana Trust, and chair of Ngā Pūkenga mo Te Tai Ohanga [Treasury], McAnulty said.

Hunia has also been chief executive of Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei Whai Māia.

McAnulty said the inquiry is due to be completed in March 2024.

“The inquiry will look at how prepared local and central governments were to be able to respond to the severe weather events,” he said.

“There are always lessons that come from responses to severe weather events. We began an inquiry to ensure New Zealand’s emergency management system is properly set up so that we’re ready for and can respond to future emergency events.”

He added that the government has dedicated $6.8 million to meet the costs of the Inquiry.

“It is important it’s done right and has the resources it needs.”

McAnulty said many agencies involved in the severe weather response are undertaking their own reviews, which will be more specific.

“The government inquiry will not seek to duplicate this work and will be informed by the findings of those reviews when making recommendations.”

McAnulty reiterated that the weather events have been extremely tough on communities, and it’s important we learn lessons and keep improving.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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