Government announces $567m for repairing roads battered by Cyclone Gabrielle

  • 31/07/2023

The Government's allocating another half a billion dollars towards repairing state highways battered by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The $567 million injection comes from the $6 billion National Resilience Plan, which was established through May's Budget. 

The purpose of that fund is to future-proof infrastructure hit hard by the recent weather events and also make sure infrastructure can function during future adverse conditions.

The new money will go towards works on state highways in Tairāwhiti, Wairoa, Hawke's Bay, Coromandel and Northland.

"We need to ensure that transport infrastructure is rebuilt quickly post the weather events, but also that they are built in a resilient way as increasingly severe weather events will continue to hit New Zealand," said Cyclone Recovery Minister Grant Robertson.

It comes on top of the $525 million already allocated to repairing state highways and local roads affected by February's Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Transport Minister David Parker said nearly all the routes cut off by the cyclone and floods have been restored, so the focus will now be on making the roads safer and more resilient. 

"We need permanent solutions in places where Bailey bridges were put in to reopen river crossings. This extra funding will replace or strengthen and rebuild damaged bridges," said Parker. 

"It will also improve the road surface on major stretches of road where potholes and cracks left after the weather events have made travel slow and frustrating for locals."

Robertson also on Monday welcomed an agreement by Hawke's Bay mayors and Regional Council chair to take to their councils a package that includes sharing the cost of buying out high-risk residential properties.

The priority will be addressing Category 3 property buyouts, flood protection and urgent repairs.

Category 3 properties are those where the risk of future serious weather events cannot be sufficiently mitigated. 

"I am very pleased that we have reached this agreement with the region's leaders that will give the people of Hawke's Bay certainty. Councils will now be asked to ratify the package and consult their communities as appropriate," Robertson said.

"As part of the package the Government has agreed to a contribution to flood protection projects to give some certainty for owners of properties assessed as Category 2, and to enhance the resilience of the Hawke's Bay region."

Robertson said councils will work with the individual property owners being offered voluntary buyouts to determine the details. 

"There are some complexities to be resolved, particularly where the property includes commercial and residential land uses," Robertson said.

"Negotiations with Auckland and Tairāwhiti on cost-sharing arrangements are progressing well, and we are hopeful to have an agreement for those regions shortly.

"Alongside these negotiations the Crown is working through a process and support package for affected Māori land and communities in affected regions. Funding for this work sits outside of the cost-sharing arrangements with councils."