'It's so wrong': Matatā residents 'unconvinced' it's not safe to stay

Residents in Matatā met this morning in an effort to stop the forced sale of their prized beachfront homes. 

It's been 14 years since the small Bay of Plenty settlement was hit by a large landslide. And despite being allowed to rebuild a year later, it's since been declared too unsafe for them to stay.  

On the agenda this morning, was whether or not to accept a package presented to them at a fiery meeting with the council last night. 

"I'm feeling angry they will not back up the bus and they keep moving forward with this and it just builds and builds the stress of living here and continuing the fight," says Matatā resident Rachel Whalley.

Today, residents discussed whether to accept a package to settle somewhere else.

"It's 60, 70 people that have to find somewhere out of the area to live, and it's wrong - it's so wrong," says resident Rob Pearce.

But Whakatane District Mayor Tony Bonne says the priority must be safety. 

"We are the last man standing. The council is responsible if a disaster happened there tomorrow. The council is who they would be looking at to put the blame on," says Bonne.

It will cost around $15 million to buy the residents out at market value, and the bill will be split equally between the Government, the Bay of Plenty District Regional Council and the Whakatane District Council. 

"We're not going to use any big stick, we're going in with the package - it's a fair package and majority will take that up in the end," says Bonne.

The mayor says the council is prepared to take the issue through the courts for those who don't accept the offer.

"They haven't convinced us that it's not safe to live here; it's a 2500-year event that's happened once to that degree," says Whalley.

For that reason, some residents say it will take an army, the police and a bulldozer to make them leave their slice of paradise. 



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