10 April 2017

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair, Doug Leeder, today announced that there will be an independent review of the infrastructure and the circumstances that led to the breach of a flood wall and associated flooding through the town of Edgecumbe on 6* April 2017.

The Regional Council Chair said he had discussed the review with Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne. He said that the timing was appropriate as the regional and district council response moves into recovery phase.

“Our first focus has been, of course, the safety of people, protection of property, and welfare. Staff have been working around the clock to do what they can to fill the breach, pump floodwaters and otherwise manage this significant flooding event.

As we move into the recovery stage, we will start looking at repair and reintroduction of services to Edgecumbe. It is appropriate that a review sits alongside that process,” Mr Leeder said.

Chairman Leeder explained that the review would be independent, and would be chaired by Sir Michael Cullen to ensure an impartial, arms-length assessment of Council infrastructure and activity.

“Sir Michael has accepted the role of Chair and will lead a group of experts through this review process. Regional Councillors will work with Sir Michael, with involvement from Mayor Bonne, to establish membership of the review committee.

We will also work together to establish the official scope of the review.  In general terms, it will be focussed on the events leading up to the breach of the flood wall. That includes design, engineering, maintenance and management of the assets that Regional Council manages on behalf of the community,” Mr Leeder said.

“I appreciate that many people in the community are looking for answers – understandably they are asking how this could happen and what could have been done to prevent it. As an eastern Bay resident myself, I understand that sentiment.

This was a very large event. More than 30 percent more water was running along the Rangitāiki than the stopbanks were designed for. The outcome of the review will be key to understanding more about this event,” Mr Leeder said.   

The timing for the review will be mapped out further in consultation with the group, but findings are expected in July.


*ERROR CORRECTED: Stopbank breach occurred on Thursday 6 April. Original version of this release was sent with date of stopbank breach incorrectly given as 5 April.