The Kāpiti Coast District Council is watching closely a compensation decision for flood victims in the small Bay of Plenty town of Matata, reports Jeremy Smith.
He says it’s called a three-way split, which is where the money will come from for victims of the 2005 Matata floods, who will be forced to leave.
And the rationale for the $15-million compensation package is a word that’s being heard around Kāpiti – managed retreat.
First the history: debris flooding down a stream at Matata devastated the community, and for seven years the Whakatane District Council tried engineering solutions to stop further flooding.
Then they decided the engineering approach was pointless and offered compensation.
Where the money will come from
Now in 2019 Whakatane is proposing a buy-out funded jointly by them, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the government.
Once the deal is done the land will be rezoned so that the current residents can no longer live there, the managed retreat.
Kapiti Mayor Gurunathan says the Matata three-way funding formula is a useful response.
“I think it has set a precedent for those councils caught in a similar dilemma.”
The mayor says the law requires councils to tell any prospective property owners about natural hazards.
Legal challenges can cause delays
But he says when property values are at stake legal challenges can question the science of the hazard, which is what the Kapiti based Coastal Ratepayers United group went to court about.
Mayor Gurunathan also notes that Greater Wellington Regional Council is working towards a managed retreat in a non-built-up area along the coast at Queen Elizabeth Park.
“As for Kāpiti,our journey will be a community-led initiative to explore the different options. Working collaboratively through a co-designed process is the only way to find solutions.”
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association says councils will need national direction on how to approach managed retreat from areas exposed to natural hazards.
He describes “managed retreat as “untested territory.”
He says an LGNZ paper from legal expert Jack Hodder warns that without overall direction these issues of compensation and managed retreat will end up in court.
- And a final note.. the website for the Coastal Ratepayers United describes managed retreat as originally proposed for Kapiti as an “absurd policy”.