Flood review – Need for Maori on panel

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MAORI should have a representative on the panel reviewing the breach of the stopbank that led to the flooding in Edgecumbe last month, according to Kohi’s representative on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Tiipene Marr said the Rangitaiki River forum was the appropriate body to represent Maori views on the panel.

He said the issue of the panel was discussed at a workshop two weeks ago.

“The outcome of that discussion was that there should be a Maori representative on the panel and it should come from the Rangitaiki River Forum.

“The Rangitaiki River Forum is the obvious Maori representative that should be on this review.”

However last week, it was announced that two engineers would join the panel’s chairman, Sir

Michael Cullen, to undertake a review of the technical reasons behind the failure of the stopbank.

Mr Marr said while he acknowledged the review would focus on the technical reason behind the breach of the stopbank, he believed the people’s point of view would be overlooked.

“It is going to be a highly technical review, it will be all about velocity over cumecs (cubic metres per second) over rainfall – that is the sort of report we are going to get.

“We are going to get statistics that the average Joe Blow won’t be able to read

“At the moment they only have two technical engineers, or technocrats, and Michael Cullen, who is obviously there to take into account of the social side. That is a hard job for him to do himself, I have suggested to him last week in council that he will need to wear a hard hat if he is going to do that.

“He is going to have to take the social impact into consideration and he is going to have to answer people’s questions from the floor.”

Mr Marr said it was important that the people of Edgecumbe were allowed to share their experiences as part of the review. He said he believed having a representative from the Rangitaiki River Forum would help with that aspect.

Established as a result of the legislation in the Government’s settlements with Ngati Whare and Ngati Manawa, the forum’s purpose is to protect and enhance the environmental cultural and spiritual health and wellbeing of the Rangitaiki River for the benefit of present and future generations.

Mr Marr said rather than being a sub-committee of the regional council, that statutory acknowledgement gave the forum the same weight as the territorial body itself.

Last week Sir Michael said the review would examine all the relevant technical aspects of the Rangitaiki-Tarawera rivers scheme “so that there can be a clear understanding for the reasons for the failure of the scheme at Edgecumbe”.

He said the review would focus on the regional council’s responsibilities related to the event. It would also examine the design, engineering, maintenance and management of the scheme, as well as how it was operated during the severe weather event.

The panel will be holding drop-in information sessions with stakeholders with the first scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 3, at Edgecumbe College from 11am. It will also take written feedback from people via its website and over the phone through 0800 BOP RIVER (267 748).




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