22 May 2017

Independent review into Edgecumbe stopbank failure

Sir Michael Cullen today announced the membership and terms of reference for the independent review of the Rangitāiki River Scheme and its management.

“The failure of the stopbank during April’s extreme weather has had a significant impact on the people of Edgecumbe,” said Sir Michael. “Homes were flooded, property destroyed and people have lost personal possessions.

“We know that ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie was a significant weather event and that rivers were running at record levels. However, what we don’t know yet is how this breach happened, and whether more could have been done to prevent it.

“People understandably are looking for answers and this is why the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has asked me to lead an independent review panel into the Rangitāiki River Scheme and its management,” said Sir Michael.

Sir Michael will joined on the review panel by two technical experts - Kyle Christensen, a water resources engineer, and Charlie Price, a geotechnical engineer. 

The review will look into the operation of the Rangitāiki River Scheme assets, including its design, engineering, maintenance and management.

It will also examine the implementation of the flood management role that the Bay of Plenty Regional Council delivered until the breach and in response to the breach.

Sir Michael said while the review is inevitably technical in nature, it is the answers to these questions that will provide the community with clarity about what happened and whether things need to be done differently in future.

The review will run until late July and the team will be speaking to the community, iwi, landowners, stakeholders and others who may be able to provide technical information pertinent to the review.