Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Hawke’s Bay welcomes recovery funding package

Neal Wallace
Almost a billion dollars in package to fund work from treating traumatised children to repairing infrastructure.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chair Hinewai Ormsby (centre front) says the funding package is critical to getting the region back on its feet after the devastation wrought by Cyclone Gabrielle in February.
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The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has welcomed the government’s billion-dollar North Island weather recovery package, which will fund the repair and replacement of infrastructure, advice to farmers and mental health experts for schools.

In a pre-budget announcement in Hawke’s Bay on Sunday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins outlined the package, which includes funding for rebuilding and repairing roads, rail and schools, flood protection, child mental health, farmer advisers, job training and development.  

The Treasury has estimated the damage from Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland Floods could range from $9 billion to $14.5bn. Hipkins said the recovery package was targeted to meet immediate needs.

“This recovery package will get roads, rail and schools back to where they were before the extreme weather hit this year so communities can get back to normal as soon as possible,” he said.

“These investments will help ease the pressure on local communities already struggling with the cost of living from having to foot the full recovery bill. We’re partnering with local government to make sure cost isn’t a barrier to the recovery work getting done.”

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chair Hinewai Ormsby said the funding package is critical for the region to get back on its feet.

“This funding is a start to support the region’s resilience to major climate events. As well as critical infrastructure investment, there is funding for welfare, and this is incredibly important for those people impacted by the cyclone.”

For the primary sector, the package focuses on flood protection work ($100m), with $35.4m to support the safety and wellbeing of farmers, growers and livestock by funding technical, scientific and financial advice.

Hawke’s Bay Lead Recovery Minister Kieran McAnulty said the funding will support access to expert advice on health and safety and animal welfare needs, urgent maintenance that is critical to the health and safety of stock and staff and the transporting of essential supplies, people, and stock related to animal health and welfare needs and health and safety.

“Of this, $5.4m will be targeted to help operate rural community hubs and ensure ongoing access to reliable telecommunications including satellite connectivity,” McAnulty said.

The cyclone has changed the regular and predictable seasonal jobs market in Hawke’s Bay and East Coast, with the number of people on Jobseeker beginning to slowly rise.

The package includes funding to help people retrain and prepare for the jobs required during the recovery and rebuild.  

Also included is $275m for the NZ Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) and local councils to repair affected roads, which is in addition to $250m announced immediately after Cyclone Gabrielle.