Road to Recovery: Minister Wood visits and the Business Fund wraps up
Published on 25 May 2023
Above: Mayor Len and Minister Wood at Umu Restaurant and Café, Coromandel Town, as part of a busy day spent driving ‘the Loop’ and visiting businesses impacted by the long-term closure of SH25A
Minister Wood commits to look at tailored support
Transport Minister and Minister of Cyclone Recovery for the Coromandel, Michael Wood along with our Mayor Len Salt, drove the entire Coromandel loop for an “on-the-ground” perspective on the condition of our State Highway network, and the difficulties faced by our district’s businesses and communities in the wake of Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle.
“The closure of that section of SH25A is going has already had a significant impact on our local economy. There will be ongoing challenges for many businesses between now and the early part of next year. It’s an awful thing, but a reality. We want to pull every available lever to access whatever assistance we can get for those most severely affected,” says our Mayor Len.
Mayor Len and Minister Wood began their road trip by heading north to Coromandel Town to meet with local business owners impacted by the cyclones, including Coromandel Oyster Company, Umu Restaurant, James and Turner Hardware, Driving Creek and Hike and Bike Coromandel. From there, it was on to visit businesses at Whitianga, including Dive Zone, Hot Water Beach Holiday Park, Whitianga Waterways and French Fig and Coghill cafés. The tour went on to Tairua, where the Mayor and the Minister met with businesses including Manaia Kitchen, The Pepe Cafe, Tairua-Pāuanui Pharmacy and Restaurant Hera (Pāuanui) and the iconic Prescott’s Garage, before ending at Whangamatā to inspect the local roading.
“From a roading perspective, we have to be realistic that the opening of SH25A won’t be until early next year. Work on the rest of the SH25A Kopu-Hikuai will continue while the road is closed, but we’re also working with Waka Kotahi on another 50 targeted sites around the entire network that need immediate remediation,” says Mayor Len.
“A major part of our role is helping to get businesses connected up with other agencies. To make sure that people affected in any way get the help they need – be it employment opportunities, finding ways to diversity their business, or linking people up to well-being support,” explains Mayor Len.
Mayor Len says he was encouraged by the Minister’s commitment to look at some tailored support to affected businesses.
“It was very evident from our road trip that there are very different needs around the district in individual communities, so a broad-brush approach will not work as well. These are hard working, resilient people, and it’s been tough for them trying to survive two years of Covid and now this. Anything we can do to help, we will. Anything that the Minister can do speed up delivery of the bridge, he will do that as well. There is sunshine ahead, we just have to get through this together.
“The good thing is that active collaboration with Waka Kotahi/NZTA is strengthening and there is funding flowing through to this partnership as part of the budget relief package. I’ll also pursue funding through my role on the Waikato Regional Transport Committee, so that the Coromandel continues to be front of mind and top of budget allocations,” says Mayor Len.
Business Assistance Fund wraps up
The final instalment of our Business Assistance Fund has now been allocated to cyclone-hit businesses in our wider region.
Just over $4 million in additional funding has now been assigned in the third tranche of funding, taking total payments from the Fund to just over $8 million.
The funding was made available by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment for our Council to disperse for the Waikato region, in recognition of the hit our district has taken from weather events this year.
“We’re incredibly grateful to be able to help our business communities in this way,” says Mayor Len.
“This money has gone to our businesses which are facing significant and sustained impact; to help them get back on their feet and provide a bit of a buffer as they deal with all the unexpected and ongoing expense of recovery.”
A total of 542 applications were received for the three rounds of funding, with payments made to 502 eligible businesses.
The funds in tranche three were awarded to those that were underfunded in the first round due to budget constraints, as well as those who narrowly missed being awarded a grant in the first round.
The Fund was open for eligible businesses from within the Waikato region, and an independent panel allocated amounts between $5,000 and $40,000 to successful applicants.
“It’s taken a huge amount of work to try and address all the requests as fairly as possible, while moving to get the money out the door as quickly as possible,” says our Council’s Economic Development Manager Mitchell King.
All decisions made during the funding rounds are now final.
Have your say in our Business Impact Survey
We are asking businesses to fill in our latest business impact survey, to collect evidence to support the need for central government support for significantly impacted businesses and industries.
The information you provide will help us provide an accurate overview of the on-going effects of this year’s storms – and measure how businesses are managing since Cyclone Gabrielle.
By completing this survey you will help us strongly advocate for the needs of our local businesses and communities.
Take the survey here
New slip forming on Tapu-Coroglen Road
Above: A diagram shows the extent of the new slip that has formed on Tapu-Coroglen Road
The formation of a new, much larger slip above the existing under slip on the Tapu-Coroglen Road has caused work on a temporary diversion around the under slip to be put on hold for safety reasons.
There are concerns that further excavation to create a temporary diversion route may cause this new slip to collapse onto the road.
Additional geotechnical investigations are being completed in the next week with a view to re-designing the temporary works if possible. These will also inform the design of the permanent works for repair that are now being reviewed to see if they can be brought forward to permanently reopen the road ahead of the anticipated date of December 2023. In the interim, the Tapu-Coroglen Road will remain closed on either side of the slip zone until further notice.
We would like to remind motorists to obey the signage and barriers preventing vehicles driving through this closed section of the Tapu-Coroglen Road. The risks of slips and/or collapse are real and may occur without warning.
Retaining wall project for Kennedy Bay Road
Our Council contractors are starting a block retaining wall project on Kennedy Bay Road this week, approximately 6km east of Driving Creek Road.
Works will be taking place between 7am and 7pm, Mondays to Saturdays, and are expected to be finished on 25 August (weather depending).
During this time, speeds will be restricted and traffic will operate under stop/go management.
Emergency services will be given priority through the work site.
What's happening on SH25?
Waka Kotahi is assessing SH25 for temporary speed limits and other safety improvements that might be needed while SH25A remains closed.
Safety engineers will be completing a SH25 drive-over this week, inspecting all of SH25, to assess what safety work is needed and where to propose temporary speed changes that are expected to be in place in June.
In the meantime, Waka Kotahi’s priorities include:
SH25 Ruamahunga Bay –The rockfill embankment (sea wall) is expected to be completed, all going to plan with fine weather, in late May.
SH25 McBeth-Opoutere under slip – Further rain is impacting this site. It should be on track to be fully reopened in June.
SH25 Wilson’s Bay – fixing and stabilising the bank and clearing the drain.
Manaia to Te Kouma Road – Road surface repairs are needed due to slip damage, work will take place from this Sunday 21 May, for three nights. A full road closure will be in place from 8pm to 5am each night, with 1 hour between 11pm and 12am (midnight) to allow for vehicles to pass through the site.
Kūaotunu hill to north of Simpsons Beach – there are multiple underslip sites, impacted culverts and retaining wall failures to be addressed. Geotechnical investigations continue in this area and from Monday 22 May drilling will start between Kūaotunu and Wharekaho.
South of Whenuakite – Where a 30kmh zone is in place, this site is often damaged and the summer storms have further impacted the surface and drainage. Work completed to date includes removal of a huge amount of slash and debris, realigning the banks of the stream, and reconstructing the road shoulder and banks above the stream. Currently work continues on reconstructing drainage systems, the road pavement and surface.
Pumpkin Hill, north of Tairua – there are multiple under slips being stabilised, monitored and drainage solutions have been put in place. Geotechnical investigations began on Monday 22 May.
SH25 Whiritoa Hill under slip (south of Whangamatā) – site investigations completed, drainage solutions in place while designers confirm repairs. Site regularly visited and photographed for monitoring.
SH25 Moana Anu Bridge (also known as the Wentworth River Bridge) will be closed to all traffic (including cyclists and pedestrians) from 7am to 5pm on Friday 9 June, for essential maintenance work. Motorists travelling between Waihi and Tairua on State Highway 25 (SH25) will be detoured through Whangamatā during this time.
Billion-dollar flood and cyclone recovery package
The Government has announced a billion-dollar flood and cyclone recovery package as part of Budget 2023 that covers the basics of rebuilding roads, rail and schools, while preparing for future events with a big investment in flood protection measures.
The package includes funding to:
Treasury has estimated the damage from Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland Floods could range from $9 billion to $14.5 billion, second behind only the Canterbury earthquakes in terms of damage from natural disasters New Zealand has faced. Of this, $5 to $7.5 billion of damage is expected to relate to infrastructure owned by central and local government.
“The Budget’s Recovery package is about providing communities and businesses with the confidence they can invest in their own rebuilds knowing the Government is fixing the core infrastructure around them,” said Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson.
“As regions and sectors finalise recovery plans and decisions are made on future land-use, the Government will continue to stand beside these communities, their people and businesses.”
Read more here
Recovery Plan sets long-term blueprint
A Recovery Plan for our district is making good progress and will provide a useful blueprint to guide the medium and long-term rebuilding of our district in the face of future severe weather events.
Did you know?
In the three weeks following Cyclone Gabrielle, our contractors removed approximately 20,400m3 or 2,550 truckloads of debris cleared from 216 over slips. At that time, 128 under slips were identified for repair, with approximately 80 requiring detailed investigation and remedial works.
Since July 2022 the Coromandel has experienced eight significant storm events, including Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle, that required our Civil Defence Emergency Operations Centre to be activated.
Already this year we’ve exceeded our average annual rainfall, with just over 3.5 metres so far.
We’re still dealing with 110 slip sites, saturated ground conditions and temporary traffic arrangements causing longer travel times for thousands of residents.
“At the same time as we’re working through our recovery, livelihoods, businesses, homes and environments on and around the district will continue to be under threat from further storm events,” says our Recovery Lead, Stephen Town.
The Recovery Plan is expected to be completed by 31 May and will be submitted to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Other cyclone affected regions around the country are working on similar recovery plans.
Read our Council's report of the Recovery Plan here.
Your feedback please
Destination Hauraki Coromandel (DHC) has released its draft Destination Management Plan (DMP), identifying transport by road, sea and air as the key priority to help transform our region.
The draft DMP evolved from workshops in 10 different locations, along with industry and youth focus groups and online surveys.
DHC would like to hear your thoughts on the draft. “This will change as we all work together, reflecting a close and ongoing collaboration with all tourism partners, agencies and locals,” says Hadley Dryden, General Manager of DHC.
"It will require collective courage to agree, find funding, stick to our mission, marshal resources that are already stretched and work with new partners and new situations. Courage to put our values first.”
Read the draft plan here
Provide your feedback here