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Taskforce to drive flood recovery

A national task force to oversee recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, that places local communities at the helm, is in the process of being set up.

Cabinet has agreed on the terms of reference for the Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery Taskforce, which has the primary purpose of aligning locally-led recovery plans with the work of government agencies and the private sector.

“Our response will ensure affected communities are at the centre of the decision making and that local voices are fed back to the Government through the taskforce,” Cyclone Recovery Minister Grant Robertson said.

“The taskforce will also oversee specialist groups of experts who will advise the Government on what is required for the recovery and how to improve resilience to climate change and severe weather in the future.”

After visiting cyclone-devastated farms and orchards in Hawke’s Bay, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins noted there was a long road ahead for recovery.

There was a balance between getting silt cleaned up and work that needed to be done to prevent such damage in the future – such as stop banks, Hipkins said.

“We need to make sure we’re not in a position where they clean up, only to find that the rain comes down and the whole thing happens all over again.”

The taskforce was set to be chaired by Sir Brian Roche, with members including representatives from business, local government, iwi, and unions.

Further members would be finalised in the next week.

Expert sub-groups were also being established for insurance and banking, utilities and telecommunications, and infrastructure, construction, and roading.

The taskforce would cover all regions affected by the January and February floods and cyclone, including Masterton and wider Wairarapa.

Regional groupings from these regions would be set up and report directly to the taskforce. The taskforce would also advise ministers on the prioritisation and order of needs for each region and provide assurance that those needs were being met.

“Its initial focus will be on the immediate recovery, but it will also lead on planning for future resilience, which will become its greater focus over time. This is similar to what happened in Queensland following the 2010-11 floods,” Robertson said.

He said some of the taskforce’s work would cover issues to do with managed retreat, as well as other adaptation and resilience issues.

“Climate resilience will be a core objective of the recovery,” Robertson said.

“We are committed to a locally-led recovery supported by central government. The establishment of this taskforce will ensure local perspectives are included, the recovery is coordinated and fits the needs of the affected region.”

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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