• Video: Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery Taskforce had much more work it could have done, says Bayden Barber

Video: Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery Taskforce had much more work it could have done, says Bayden Barber

The Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery Taskforce, which was wound up by the National Government this week, had so much more work to do, says Bayden Barber.

Barber, who is the Executive Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, was a member of the Taskforce headed by Sir Roche. The Taskforce was established by the Labour Government last year with the primary purpose of aligning locally led recovery plans with the work of government agencies and the private sector.

The Emergency Management and Recovery Minister Mark Mitchell announced this week that the TaskForce has been wound down with responsibilities transferred to the Cyclone Recovery Unit.

“In making this decision, we have considered how the recovery structures have evolved, and in particular the role of the Cyclone Recovery Unit to coordinate and prioritise the recovery programme.”

However, Barber told Hawke’s Bay App that he felt there was more work that could have been done.

“There's so much more work to be done. There's so much more in the recovery space. I mean, we just had the one-year anniversary and we heard from our communities themselves. Hopefully this government will pick up on those themes and desires from the community and just make sure that they continue to roll out the support.”

Asked if he had been surprised by the Government’s move, Barber said: “No surprises to me that it's been wrapped up. We've got a new government, they've got their own direction, and I guess the Taskforce is the kind of a hangover from a previous government, so they want to do things differently. Kei Te Pai.”

“Well, we had a bit of a break over the summer and we hadn't heard anything. We were waiting to hear what this new government was going to do, and it hasn't really been a surprise. I thought they might've kept it going because Brian Roche is at the helm. You've got people with credibility that are helping to guide the work, but it is what it is and we'll just roll with it.”

Sir Brian will remain as an advisor to the Minister for Emergency Management and Recovery.

Hawke’s Bay App has approached the Minister for Emergency Management’s Office for comment on Barber’s statement.

This week also saw Mitchell write to the Mayor of Hastings Sandra Hazlehurst to tell her that the Government will not be contributing to the costs of the demolition of homes belonging to Cyclone Category Three property owners. The Council, on Tuesday, decided by a narrow margin to not make the property owners liable for the demolition costs – about $2m.

Barber said that either the Council or the Crown should be paying the costs.

“When you add it all up, it's not a lot of money in the bigger scheme of things, but for the individual homeowners, property owners, it's a big huge deal on top of what they've already lost.”

“I think good common sense has come to the fore and yeah, I think the Crown should pick it up and just move on. Really, that should be just a straightforward decision to support these households and let them move on with their lives.”

Asked how the rebuilding was going within his Iwi communities, Barber said: “We've got a lot more work to be done, and I'm talking not just about iwi, but the whole community.”

“The Māori land issues around category three. I mean, that's a long tail behind general title land. So helping those hapū and whānau on their journey, I think is going to be really important. Getting people back into homes is going to be really important and helping support the rebuild of our infrastructure, roading, key arteries to move produce, and to get people from A to B without half an hour of sitting at a stop sign.”

Watch the accompanying video to see the interview with Bayden Barber.