The cyclone has passed, leaving destruction in its wake.
Now it’s time for a change of tack.
It's time for you, the people of Central Hawke's Bay, to take the wheel for a while and help us chart a course back towards what we see as a thriving future.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen two things happen.
First, the leaders of Hawke’s Bay have engaged with government on our recovery, stating unequivocally that while central and regional unity are crucial, recovery must be based in plans and actions driven at a local level.
This approach, adopted by the region, local government and iwi and supported by central government, means that it's now time to put together a Central Hawke's Bay plan by locality to shape our part of the Hawke's Bay regional picture. While we need to chart our own course, we also need to connect with our neighbours. We will need to work together on some parts of this journey.
Second, we’ve seen people, communities, businesses and farms swing into the rebuild of their homes, buildings, fences and sheds. There’s a strong example in Pōrangahau village where there is a growing detailed knowledge of all the homes that need to be rebuilt - scoped by local knowledge and local dedication to ensure that no-one falls through the cracks.
In some ways, the questions that Pōrangahau are asking are ahead of the game. We are challenging government agencies to be able to act with us in an interconnected, consistent way, when there are policy questions in front of them that they don’t yet know how to approach. One example: how may the government extend support for uninsured red and yellow stickered properties? Based on what we know about the damage and need at a local level in the Pōrangahau village, we definitely need financial support for our families in this situation.
The work in this part of the district means that some parts of our ‘map to recovery’ are already forming; this tells us that an overall Tamatea/Central Hawke’s Bay locality plan of action will be powerful.
Interestingly, before Cyclone Gabrielle blew us over, the elected Councillors of Central Hawke's Bay had revised their focus areas for what they saw was needed in the district. Housing, roading, climate change resilience and partnerships were key parts of our plan and are all now doubly relevant.
There’s a lot of work ahead. We've all got questions. And we all need some confidence on how to take the next steps to rebuild. In the short term, we need to get our families, businesses and farms through the coming winter and in particular, help 84 families back into their homes. We’ll need to adapt our systems and infrastructure to give us confidence when it rains between now and Labour Weekend.
Beyond this, we’ll need to not only rebuild, but also to reimagine what the future looks like as we look at the extremes of weather we have experienced over the last three years - from drought to flood. Alongside the big questions of stormwater management, flood control, land use and agricultural impacts, we are going to need to be bold as we chart a course that may take a few years to navigate.
So over the next few weeks, we are going to come to you, our community, to understand what you think we need to do - what tack we need to take. Whether you come along to one of our Community Conversations across the district or respond to our survey online later this week, we will work together with local knowledge, mātauranga and vision to plan a thriving future.
31 March 2023
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