The Earthquake Commission (EQC) will lead the clean-up of flood-damaged properties in Edgecumbe, say Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee and Lead Minister for Edgecumbe Anne Tolley.
“I’ve authorised EQC to clean-up all affected properties in the township, including for those homeowners who do not have insurance,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Having the Government pick up the tab for cleaning up Edgecumbe means work can get underway while cost sharing arrangements are finalised with the Whakatane District Council.
“This arrangement is similar to the management of emergency works in Canterbury following the February 2011 earthquake.
“EQC has started the clean-up efforts and contractors on the ground have already cleared about 17 properties with around 15 more currently scheduled.
“Staff will be contacting residents to discuss the work involved in clearing their properties and to offer those who are insured the opportunity to lodge a claim.
“A large part of the clean-up involves clearing the silt and debris that have inundated properties and their subfloors so the foundations can be checked and repaired,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mrs Tolley says Edgecumbe is now well into the recovery phase following the severe flooding in the region.
“The Government is committed to ensuring the people of Edgecumbe have the support they need to get back on their feet as soon as possible,” Mrs Tolley says.
“We’ve provided $500,000 of Enhanced Taskforce Green funding to employ people to assist the Council with the clean-up. Work continues on the needs assessments, and the first work crews will be up and running next week.
“Over 2,700 civil defence payments (totalling over $685,000) have been made to help people with food, clothing and bedding, and there’s also been over 220 other emergency related payments (totalling around $36,000).
“The Temporary Accommodation Service has received 60 requests to date.”
Last month, the Government announced an extra $700,000 to further support businesses, farmers and growers. Inland Revenue also waived late payment fees and penalties for those prevented from paying on time due to the flooding.
More information about EQC’s cover for this year’s flood events is online at http://www.eqc.govt.nz/get-help-now-claims/march-floods.
In his first overseas engagement as Foreign Affairs Minister, Gerry Brownlee will today travel to Australia.
Mr Brownlee will meet his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Sydney tomorrow.
“Given the close intersect of trans-Tasman values and interests both globally and regionally, I am deliberately meeting my Australian counterpart as early as possible in my tenure as Foreign Affairs Minister,” Mr Brownlee says.
“It speaks to the value New Zealand places on its relationship with our most important bilateral partner.”
In their first formal bilateral meeting, the two Ministers will discuss global, regional and bilateral issues.
A particular item for discussion between the two Ministers in the trans-Tasman agenda is Australia’s policy changes that will see New Zealanders paying higher fees in the Australian tertiary education system.
“Our relationship with our trans-Tasman neighbour is both close and important so I’m keen to have a discussion about the bigger picture and how we can communicate sooner on these issues going forward,” Mr Brownlee says.
In his last act as Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Gerry Brownlee has today announced the Crown will fund a pre-feasibility study for a new multi-use arena in Christchurch.
The Christchurch Central Recovery Plan provides for a multi-use sports and entertainment venue to attract regional, national and international events.
Under the central city Blueprint, the land between three city blocks bounded by Hereford, Tuam, Madras and Barbadoes Streets was designated for the anchor project.
Mr Brownlee says the Christchurch Stadium Trust, which owns the temporary AMI Stadium in Addington, will undertake a feasibility report.
“It makes sense for the Trust to lead this process, as it’s been operating the city’s only large-scale multi-use stadium for the last five years and has the existing working relationships, expertise and experience in the industry,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The Trust will establish a Stadium Trust Subcommittee – which will include Crown appointees and Christchurch City Councillor Tim Scandrett.
“This work will comprise of three stages – the establishment phase, the desktop analysis phase and financial analysis and modelling phase – and will report back to the Christchurch City Council and my successor Nicky Wagner by the end of July.
“I think this is an important step for securing another world-class civic amenity for Christchurch, the wider region and the South Island and I believe complementary developments, such as hospitality and commercial space, should be included.
“This will help ensure the arena’s use is maximised and activated at times when the venue is not being specifically used for sporting or entertainment events.
“Making sure this anchor project does not become a burden to ratepayers is an essential component of the Trust’s work and I look forward to their findings.”
Mr Brownlee says most of the designated land has been purchased by the Crown and negotiations for the remaining parcels continue.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says with the decision to demolish Lancaster Park, we are now in a position to consider the opportunities that the land the government has set aside for a multi-use arena provides.
“It is important that a pre-feasibility study is undertaken to ensure that we are able to deliver on a shared vision about what this could mean for our city and region.
"After all, as I always say, Canterbury is the sporting capital of New Zealand. A multi-use arena has the potential to take us to a new level."
The government will provide $2.5 million in funding over three years to help three local councils affected by the November earthquake, Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.
“This funding will help Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough District Councils shoulder their additional local government responsibilities after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake last year,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Based on Christchurch’s experience, we can expect a ramp-up in council activities, potentially doubling their regulatory services.
“The funding will support the Kaikōura and Hurunui councils with their additional local government responsibilities, including building consents, planning and hazard management. “Last year, Kaikōura District Council issued 118 building consents and processed 51 resource consent applications.
“As a result of the earthquake, 177 properties are red or yellow stickered and many others will need consent for cosmetic work. The council will also need to process multiple consents for road works and infrastructure repairs.
“The Hurunui District had a higher baseline of activity with 400-500 building consents per annum.
“However, well over 300 properties were red or yellow stickered and it too expects a wave of new applications,” Mr Brownlee says.
The earthquake changed the natural hazard landscape in North Canterbury and Marlborough considerably.
Rivers have changed shape, and rockfall and landslips created significant geotechnical hazards to buildings and other essential infrastructure.
The councils now need to understand the changed landscape and the new risks and will need to consult with communities and engage with residents and land owners.
“These small councils are expending considerable time and effort to engage with their communities, including many in remote areas, as well as working with the government agencies assisting the recovery.
“Over the next few years the councils will need to operate at a higher level, taking on staff and being more active with communities and government.
“Longer term I’m hopeful the councils and their communities will be more resilient, in terms of infrastructure and processes”, Mr Brownlee says.
The Mayors of Kaikōura and Hurunui welcomed the additional support, saying it will help ease the burden on ratepayers.
Notes to editors:
The councils have received other help with their local government responsibilities.
Tourism Minister Paula Bennett provided $870,000 to promote tourism in Kaikōura and the upper South Island, plus ongoing support for targeted businesses.
Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith also recently announced $2.6 million funding for the Hurunui and Kaikōura councils and Environment Canterbury to manage building waste, especially asbestos and other hazardous waste.
The government continues to pay a share of network infrastructure repair, such as roads and pipes.
Government officials will work with the councils to allocate the funding effectively.
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has established a Technical Advisory Group to identify where improvements in New Zealand’s Civil Defence structure could be made.
In March, Mr Brownlee convened a cross-party meeting to initiate discussions about the Civil Defence Emergency Management structure and the shortcomings highlighted by recent emergencies, such as the Kaikōura earthquake and Port Hills fires.
Following the meeting, Mr Brownlee wrote to various agencies and departments asking them to nominate someone for a Technical Advisory Group (TAG).
Cabinet this week approved the following members of the TAG:
· Roger Sowry, as Chair;
· Malcolm Alexander, Chief Executive, Local Government New Zealand;
· Assistant Commissioner Mike Rusbatch, New Zealand Police;
· Deputy National Commander Kerry Gregory, New Zealand Fire Service;
· Major General Tim Gall, New Zealand Defence Force;
· Sarah Stuart-Black, Director, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management;
· Benesia Smith, former Deputy Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority
“The first meeting of the Technical Advisory Group will be in the week commencing 22 May 2017,” Mr Brownlee says.
“I’ll also be inviting the cross-party group to meet with the TAG and I would encourage input from cross-party representatives at this meeting before terms of reference are finalised and the group begins its work.
“I am anticipating the TAG to submit its recommendations to me by the end of August.
“Civil Defence has operated under the structure that civil defence is ‘undertaken locally, coordinated regionally and supported from the national level’. It’s been this way since 1959 and whether this way of operating is still fit-for-purpose needs to be scrutinised.
“I want to make clear the respect I have for the many volunteers who make themselves available after natural disasters and emergencies. The need to review the Civil Defence Emergency Management structure is not intended in any way to be a criticism of any volunteer efforts,” Mr Brownlee says.
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced additional funding of $700,000 for the restoration of Kaikōura Harbour, bringing the government’s total contribution to $5.7 million.
Two major commercial operators, Whale Watch Kaikōura and Encounter Kaikōura, have been working with the Kaikōura District Council and the Crown and have also agreed to help fund the harbour’s restoration.
Mr Brownlee says the collaborative approach between local and central government and business operators will mean this essential facility will be better than it was before the magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
An initial $5 million government contribution to repairs was announced in December after the earthquake rendered the harbour unusable outside high tide.
“With this additional funding we’re well on track to getting the harbour fully up and running again by October.
“The harbour is an essential part of infrastructure for Kaikōura, providing livelihoods for the operators and supporting businesses and the platform for a world renowned tourist experience.
“The initial $5 million grant was a rough estimate so repairs could get going immediately. Now that the detailed design is complete, we have a better picture of the total costs.
“It’s been a huge job. Massive amounts of material were dredged and removed after the seabed was raised by up to 2m in places by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
“The additional funding will restore the four berths and jetty, which are vital to the operations of the whale and dolphin watching tourist ventures.
“Knowing the facilities will be restored and enhanced provides a welcome platform for operators to support further development.
“Now we have certainty for Whale Watch Kaikōura and other operators. They can now plan for next season, safe in the knowledge that the harbour will be ready in time,” Mr Brownlee says.
Kaikōura Mayor Winston Gray says he welcomes the government funding and support and looks forward to the ongoing partnership with the local operators.
“Marine-based tourist attractions are so important for Kaikōura.
“They are our main drawcard. A good proportion of our workforce is dependent the tourism industry, so getting the harbour functional again by the tourist season will be welcomed by the whole town,” Mr Gray says.
Attachments: The aerial map shows what work has been completed to date and the design drawing shows what restoration project entails.
The government will fund a free and independent advisory service to assist North Canterbury residents with insurance claims, Civil Defence Minister and Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee says.
This pilot programme will be set up to deal with the specific insurance needs of residents following the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14, 2016.
“I’m sure this announcement will be a relief for many residents who may be struggling with the complexities of their insurance claims,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We have seen how much stress insurance issues can cause people, so the Crown and local authorities have been very focused on providing residents with support as soon as possible.”
Residents will be able to receive advice through face-to-face meetings with Community Law staff at local hubs.
“We are working closely with the local authorities in Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough to establish the local hubs and determine the best locations for them,” Mr Brownlee says.
The service will incorporate the experiences and learnings from the Residential Advisory Service (RAS), which has successfully assisted thousands of Christchurch residents with their insurance claims after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
The RAS has been a highly successful service in Christchurch since its establishment in 2013, advising 16,236 residents and progressing 4,484 residential property owners to a meeting with an independent advisor or broker.
The North Canterbury advisory service will be set up in a slightly different way from the Christchurch RAS, as the insurance challenges and needs in North Canterbury are different from Christchurch.
“The RAS was developed in Christchurch, revised, reviewed and adapted over a number of years as issues emerged in a changing environment.
“In North Canterbury, the situation is different, and we are still right at the start of the process, hence the decision to begin with a pilot programme with legal support which can be adapted as we go forward,” Mr Brownlee says.
The new advisory service in North Canterbury will be funded by the Crown but led and resourced by Community Law.
Residents who would like to discuss this service directly with Community Law can ring 0800EQLEGAL (0800 3753425).
The Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee says he’s pleased recovery agencies have listened to the concerns of businesses and residents about the city’s transport plan.
On Monday, Mr Brownlee was granted Cabinet authorisation to suspend the government funding contributions of Accessible City projects being led by Crown company Ōtākaro Limited.
In phase one of the Accessible City, Ōtākaro is responsible for the delivery of three out of eight roading and transport projects, at a cost of $50 million.
“The responsible parties, Ōtākaro and the Christchurch City Council, need to work together to tweak and refine the Accessible City plan and I have been encouraging this for some time,” Mr Brownlee says.
“I’ve been particularly concerned about certain aspects of the Plan, including St Asaph St, Durham St, the area around Victoria Square and Victoria St.
“I also don’t believe adequate on-street car parking has been provided for in Accessible City and while I commend the move towards a more cycle-friendly and walkable city, a balance needs to be struck and it should not be to the detriment of the city as a whole.
“The transport chapter of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan was passed while CERA was still the lead agency in Christchurch but plans need to be flexible and able to accommodate a changing city’s needs.
“Agencies need to ensure the transport network is fit-for-purpose and will contribute to a vibrant central city rather than inhibiting access for residents, workers, business owners, developers and visitors.
“It’s my understanding at a meeting with Christchurch City Council and Ōtākaro staff and a group representing developers and business owners today that a productive way forward was agreed on.
“I welcome the anticipated changes to the St Asaph St project and encourage Ōtākaro and the council to continue to listen to our city’s users,” Mr Brownlee says.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee, on behalf of the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, has issued a Joint Communique agreeing on key areas to collaborate and coordinate.
“It was a very successful meeting, and demonstrated how New Zealand can work closely with our South Pacific neighbours to tackle the defence and security challenges for our region,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We reached agreement on a number of important areas for action.
“These include a humanitarian assistance and disaster network, building up our future young and women defence leaders, a maritime security forum, and further peacekeeping cooperation and joint military exercises.
“These achievements are only made possible by the cooperative spirit of my Pacific colleagues,” Mr Brownlee says.
The next South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, which includes Australia, Chile, Fiji, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga, will be hosted by Fiji in 2019.
New Zealand will deploy a Royal New Zealand Navy Inshore Patrol Vessel and crew to Fiji for six months from May, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Mr Brownlee and his Fijian counterpart Ratu Inoke Kubuabola announced the deployment today at the third South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Auckland.
“This is an excellent opportunity for New Zealand to partner with Fiji on maritime security and protecting fisheries – important issues not only to Fiji but also to New Zealand and the wider region.
“Fiji is an Island nation, like New Zealand, and therefore protecting our maritime resources is extremely important,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Kubuabola says he welcomes the New Zealand vessel supporting Fiji to patrol its exclusive economic zone and protect its regional fisheries resources.
“The Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Fijian fisheries personnel will work closely with the New Zealand crew on board during the course of the deployment to Fiji.
“I’m pleased to work with New Zealand as one of our close partners in the region, not only to conduct maritime patrols, but also to train together and to strengthen our people-to-people links,” Mr Kubuabola says.
Both Ministers also acknowledged the positive discussions at the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting and the agreement reached between Ministers on a number of important areas to the region.
· New Zealand is working in partnership with Fiji to further our cooperation in a range of different defence and security areas.
· New Zealand was one of the first partners to respond to tropical cyclone Winston in Fiji in 2016.
· Recently New Zealand has supported Fiji with pre-deployment training for their many international peacekeeping operations.
· Fiji and New Zealand work together on a range of regional exercises. Fiji participated in the NZ-led Southern Katipo in 2015 and will be invited to attend Southern Katipo 2017.
Ministers from Australia, Fiji, Chile, New Zealand and Tonga were in Auckland today for the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
The meeting was an opportunity to discuss a number of areas of mutual importance, including maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.