Flood and Cyclone recovery package covers the basics

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced a billion dollar flood and cyclone recovery package as part of Budget 2023. This is about doing the basics - repairing and rebuilding what has been damaged and making smart investments, including $100 million of protection funding to ensure future events don’t cause the same devastation.

It contains a significant investment in better flood protection measures. It will get roads, rail and schools back to where they were before. It’s also making sure our communities are OK by getting immediate mental health support in place, especially for our young people.

We want to support local business and workers, so there is funding in this package for work schemes to support locals to get jobs in the recovery and local businesses are engaged too.

To date the Government has put $890 million into a rolling maul of repair works, business support, silt clean-up, help for growers and farmers, getting schools, bridges and roads back open. But there’s still more to do – and this package is not the last of our investment.

Repairing and rebuilding all weather-hit schools

We’re committing to returning all schools impacted by the Auckland flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle to their pre-weather event state. There’s funding to cover the immediate costs associated with returning affected schools to working order. This includes repairs to roofs, plumbing infrastructure, carpentry, tree removal, and emergency cleaning.

On top of this, there’s additional funding available for possible redevelopment or relocation of schools, funding for extra school staff and more wellbeing support for students, and money to replace damaged books in school libraries. Find out more here.

Investing in roads and rail to ease pressure on local councils

The road and rail network has been hit hard by severe weather this year. We’re committed to repairing these essential connections and not leaving ratepayers to cover the cost alone.

Within this package, $275 million is earmarked for Waka Kotahi and local councils to repair affected roads and get New Zealand’s essential transport network operating again. This is on top of the $250 million the Government announced immediately after Cyclone Gabrielle.

We’re also investing to repair the North Island rail to restore this crucial transport connection for people and freight, with a $200 million funding injection. This will get our rail network back in action by investing to repair the rail tracks, sleepers, bridges, and other structures that were damaged, and to clear debris from the tracks caused by slips and washouts. Find out more here.

Big investment in flood protection to prevent future flooding

Regions affected by the recent North Island extreme weather events will be able to apply for funding from an initial $100 million in Budget 2023 for local solutions to keep them safe from future floods.

This $100 million is on top of the standard support the Government provides to councils to repair and rebuild following a disaster – this includes covering 60 percent of costs of damaged essential infrastructure owned by councils.

We know that the Government’s previous investment into flood protection measures such as stopbanks saved lives, homes, businesses and communities during Cyclone Gabrielle. We will continue to build even greater resilience in our regions to provide better protection for local communities and economies. Find out more here.

More support for rural communities

We’re investing $35.4 million to support the safety and wellbeing of farmers and growers, and stock in cyclone damaged areas by scaling up on-farm technical, scientific and financial advice. This funding will support:

  • access to expert advice where it is needed to inform and address urgent  health and safety, animal welfare needs, and to ensure the safety of ongoing operations;
  • urgent maintenance where this is critical to the health and safety of stock and staff; and
  • critical transport of essential supplies, people, and stock related to animal health and welfare needs and health and safety.

Of this, $5.4 million will be targeted to help operate rural community hubs, and ensure ongoing access to reliable telecommunications including satellite connectivity. Find out more here.

More mental health support including in schools

The package is providing dedicated investment into mental health and wellbeing support, including extending the successful Mana Ake programme developed following the Christchurch quakes into every school in the Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti.

We know from other disasters in New Zealand and globally that mental health impacts emerge over time. The demand for various services will change over the next 6 to 12 months, and our response will evolve to ensure we’re responding.

It’s not just the immediate response that’s important, there are longer term impacts on mental health, which is why we’re allocating a total of $10 million to provide additional support for community-led mental wellbeing initiatives. Find out more here.

Supporting businesses and workers

Businesses and workers in affected regions will also receive a boost to employment and social support to help them through the recovery.

The package will help people retrain and prepare for the jobs that will be required during the recovery and rebuild.  As well as retraining, we will also focus on ‘retaining’.

To achieve this, we’re increasing investment in successful schemes to keep people in the workforce including the Transition to Work grant, the $5K to Work scheme, Mana in Mahi, and industry partnerships.

There will be an additional $6 million for the Food Secure Communities programme to support community food providers, such as food banks and food rescue organisations, to meet the increased demand on their services. Find out more here.

Supporting weather affected regions to get back on their feet is key focus for us. People’s lives have been turned upside down and we will continue to stand with communities as they recover and rebuild from our country’s second most costly natural disaster.

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