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Funding, donations help recovery

Cyclone Gabrielle caused significant havoc to Tararua’s roading network and continues to impact many people and businesses in the Tararua District, especially in our coastal and rural communities.

With 1,960 kilometres of roads, our district has the fourth largest roading network of any New Zealand council. Our road network is critical to our communities and businesses, so repairing the damage forms a large part of our recovery. Following the cyclone, we had over 2,000 roading network faults eventually tallied on our roads, of which more than 90 were high complexity faults. We were notified this week of an increase to our Funding Assistance Rate [FAR] from Waka Kotahi to 73 per cent which will assist with the impact to our community through rates.

The ongoing wet weather including the snow that falls while I am writing this, is certainly not helping our roading teams at the moment. Despite this, our teams have already resolved over 900 of the faults – in some places, we’ve been able to clear up slip mud and rocks and things are back to normal. In other places, our work to re-establish a resilient road may take years. An example of a high complexity fault is the road through the Marainanga Gorge, near Ākitio, which was severely impacted by the cyclone.

We are hoping to open the road through Marainanga Gorge this month, although further work may still be required.

Any weather event this winter or even over the next couple of years will have the potential to impact our programme, but what we’re hoping is that we will end up with resilient routes around our district which provide reassurance to our residents.

We really appreciate that councils, organisations and individuals from everywhere in Aotearoa have sent koha through for our Mayoral Relief Fund, and the Government has been supporting our roading and infrastructure and other needs to the tune of many millions. We’re extremely grateful. To date, we have been able to help 67 cyclone-affected people, businesses, and organisations through the Mayoral Relief Fund.

Following confirmation of nearly $34.7 million in emergency works funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, we will be able to move up a notch with planning and road repairs in our district. During the cyclone response phase Council received $10 million, which brings the total funding from Waka Kotahi to $44.7 million. This is the largest amount of external funding that the Tararua District Council has ever received.

Securing this funding is key to restoring our local roads and will bring certainty to families and businesses across the region that roading repairs aren’t placing additional demands on rates. I would also like to express my gratitude towards all our teams as well as our iwi partners, the Horizons team, and locals, who are working together to improve the Tararua road network. This funding will also stimulate the Tararua economy and provide employment opportunities. Our teams have already prioritised key sites and designs are being progressed to ensure that contractors can start the repairs to our district’s roads as soon as the summer construction period begins. A critical part of the planned repairs is to ensure resilience and a stable road network.

The funding assistance rate, known as FAR, is assessed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency every three years and this week they announced council’s rate has increased to 73 per cent, up from 69 per cent previously. Emergency works funding is usually based on a district’s standard FAR plus 20 per cent which potentially moves us to 93 per cent funding. After experiencing nine storm events prior to Cyclone Gabrielle, the increase is welcomed.

The emergency road repair work within the Tararua District is estimated to take five years, and includes repairing 20 compromised bridges, 551 dropouts and 1,807 other faults within our district’s roading network.

  • For information: www.tararuadc.govt.nz/Recovery

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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