Hawke's Bay Regional Council admits Government forced them to release Cyclone Gabrielle red zone map before ready

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has admitted the Government forced them to release their flood zoning maps before they were ready.

As a result, some homes might have been red-zoned unnecessarily and could still be lived in.

About 100 Puketapu locals pulled up a seat to ask the council months' worth of questions.

Two weeks ago Hawke's Bay councils released zoning maps for houses flooded by Cyclone Gabrielle. Nearly 300 are in the highest risk category and therefore deemed unliveable.

But council bosses told the meeting the Government pressured them to release those maps before all the data was ready.

"Those maps have come out. They came out prematurely," Hawke's Bay Regional Council CEO Bill Bayfield said.

It raised eyebrows and even more questions.

"My house is on the hill. The water was only 3 or 4 metres off - is that category three for my property, or my house and property?" one resident asked.

The council admitted some homes in category three might actually be liveable. 

"If your dwelling is dry you probably shouldn't be in [category] three," Bayfield said. 

It fuelled uncertainty and stress about who is in what category.

"There are so many different levels of hurt, anger and frustration," Esk Valley community support leader Sarndra Spicer said.

The Government told Newshub a risk assessment was completed in May, as was publicly promised and said all stakeholders felt it was important information was provided as soon as possible. 

Council consultation is now underway. 

"Call off the meetings - if you don't have an answer, don't put them through more hell," Spicer said. 

Another area awaiting answers is Wairoa. Parts of the town have been zoned as 2A - but the council revealed that could change.  

"The question is: Is it three or is it 2A? At the moment it sits in 2A with a decision to be made in future," Bayfield said.

Decisions people need so they can piece their lives back together.