Tairāwhiti locals walk out on meeting with Forestry Minister Peeni Henare

A long-awaited update on the Government's response to Cyclone Gabrielle's forestry damage has been met with heartbreak and anger.

On Thursday, as ministers attempted to outline their plans in Tūranganui a Kiwa/Gisborne, fed-up locals walked out of the meeting.

It was one of Tairāwhiti's most highly anticipated meetings, where Forestry Minister Peeni Henare addressed the crowd.

"We're looking towards the important work we have in front of us which is why everybody is here today.

"We are announcing a package of four key actions with the primary focus of reducing risk."

Henare was talking to a broken region.

Whānau have been grieving while living with destroyed roads and hills collapsing under their own sodden weight.

The Government subsequently launched an inquiry that culminated in a report called 'From Outrage to Optimism', which outlined 49 recommendations to address the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The report said Ngāti Porou is in peril and at risk of becoming homeless and landless.

On Thursday, the Government revealed its response.

"To appoint a statutory resource management advisor - to identify opportunities to strengthen the resource management framework in the Tairāwhiti region," Henare told the crowd.

But the announcement supposed to turn outrage to optimism actually did the opposite.

Locals walked out of the hui with Forestry Minister Peeni Henare on Thursday, saying they were dissatisfied with what the Minister put forward.
Locals walked out of the hui with Forestry Minister Peeni Henare on Thursday, saying they were dissatisfied with what the Minister put forward. Photo credit: Newshub.

"Here I am again. The same thing. It can't be. So sorry, I did mean to listen," one local woman told Henare.

"We want urgency, and what's relevant for us as a people - and I'm not feeling that today," another said.

"This is just bullshit. You should've come with something a bit more substantive," a third chimed in.

No new funding was announced on Thursday

Instead, they’re promising a new management advisor for Council and a facilitator to help build partnerships.

"Just way off the mark," according to Tairāwhiti land-use researcher Manu Caddie.

He told Newshub the scale of support needed has hardly been met at all

"I went into that meeting with a lot of optimism, then there's a lot of outrage. And now there's just heartbreak. If this Government doesn't care, who will?"

And he's not alone.

"The minister has brought a vague set of actions, and he looks to have kicked the issue out of the election cycle," said local resident John Kape.

Meanwhile, delays in sorting out forestry slash have been impacting local iwi Ngāti Porou too, says iwi Agribusiness spokesperson Hilton Collier.

"We've waited for five months for a response to this report. We need to have rules and regulations changed fairly quickly, and I don't see a mechanism in this announcement that enables that to be achieved," Collier told Newshub

The Government has previously bookmarked nearly $225 million to help clean up slash and sediment.

But what was today supposed to be an optimistic victory may not have turned into the photo op they wanted.