Tangoio community calls red-zoning 'kick in the guts', questions why beachside development is in different category

A small community in Hawke's Bay is describing the red-zoning of their homes like a "kick in the guts".

Tangoio residents have to move because the risk of death or injury from flooding is too high following Cyclone Gabrielle's devastation.

But questions are being asked about why a beachside development in the same area doesn't fall into the same category.

Being effectively red-zoned has come as a shock for Tangoio Marae trustee Evelyn Ratima.

"Like a kick in the guts and a punch in the heart," she said.

Many of her family lie in the urupa, and she grew up in the valley where the whenua is steeped in history.

"All this land was confiscated from us - this is what the government left us with. They knew it was a flood zone, we knew it was a flood zone - but we lived in it, built in it, and made it our paradise."

A paradise that was destroyed in February when floodwaters obliterated the marae, urupa and homes.

Since then, the hapu's taonga and whenua have been painstakingly restored by heritage experts and locals. 

But its people are now homeless - they're not allowed to rebuild houses in the valley.

"Where are we going to go, what are we going to do?" Ratima asked.

A photo of the damage.
A photo of the damage. Photo credit: Simon Nixon / Supplied

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazelhurst said those answers will soon be made clear, and the council will help people relocate.

"It's up to us to make land available for people to rebuild."

But another group in the area isn't being red-zoned at all. The Council's land categorisation maps, released on Thursday, show that most of Tangoio is in category 3 - where the risk to life is deemed too high for residents to live.

However, the beachside development in Tangoio has been zoned as category 2A - meaning homes might be able to be protected from future floods.

Ngāti Kahungunu chair Bayden Barber said it's a frustrating decision.

"It smells of inequities, it smells of those that have more money, have more opportunity to stay there and continue to build holiday homes on that part of the land."

The iwi is pushing the council for more answers.

"It doesn't feel right, it doesn't sound right and it probably isn't right," Barber said.

However, Doug McCleland, who lives at the beachfront development, told Newshub that he and his neighbours are not "holiday-makers loaded with cash privilege".

"We like the local hapu wish to remain in the valley and have been working hard with the local hapu and marae to achieve this for all, not just us. We already have some positive options going forward", he said.

McCleland said the development residents are talking with the hapu about the different categories imposed by the council.

"The hapu are grieving for their loss and we are all determined to create a positive outcome for everyone. We all have a common goal, our love of the valley and our will to live here."

Hazlehurst said the category maps are preliminary.

"There is more information to come - we look forward to sharing that with the community."

A Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC) spokesperson told Newshub the categorisations could change.

"While HBRC supplied the initial unassured data and is working to get it assured it is district councils that consult with communities and help them make decisions about their futures."

The Council said options for flood control in Tangoio Valley are extremely limited, but added that in some parts it might be possible.

"Due to the natural conditions there are opportunities on the margins near the mouth, this is the same case for Esk Valley. Land ownership was not considered on the criteria for risk assessment."

The hapu is now eyeing up the land where category 2A is as a solution.

"This is my message to everyone out there - that 2A - we want it," Ratima said.

So they can keep living together on the land their ancestors fought so hard for.