• Video: Prime Minister says he is impressed with how Hawke’s Bay leaders are working together for the region

Video: Prime Minister says he is impressed with how Hawke’s Bay leaders are working together for the region

Prime Minister says he is pleased to see how Hawke’s Bay leaders are working together for the region in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.

In a quick trip to Hawke’s Bay today, Christopher Luxon, together with Emergency Management Minister Mark Mitchell and Local Government and Transport Minister Simeon Brown,  held meetings with local leaders in Wairoa and Napier.

“I am so impressed by the fact that actually we've got four district councils, one Regional council plus mana whenua leaders here altogether actually advocating and articulating with great clarity what the needs are for a sub-region like Hawke's Bay.”

“And that is so, so helpful for us because then we can actually partner in a much more constructive way.”

Luxon travelled to Wairoa via State Highway 2 and admitted that the road was in a bad condition – probably the worst he has driven on.

“We drove up State Highway 2 to Wairoa and we drove back down State Highway 2, got the full experience. Have a full understanding. And when you travel with someone like [Napier MP Katie Nimon], who understands roads incredibly well. I got an explanation of every 100 meters of that road up to Wairoa and back again.”

He said the Government was focused on providing a solution for the road which has been closed numerous times because of slips recently.

In Wairoa Luxon and his Ministers met with the Mayor Craig Little and his Deputy Denise Eaglesome-Karekare.

“Obviously the big topic of conversation that we really have to get resolved for on Wairoa is actually flood protection. And talking about that with Craig Little and Denise were really important.”

While Luxon did not open the cheque book, he did indicate that the Government was keen to know what was needed.

“We want to get an assessment of what it is that is actually needed. And some of it will be money and some of it will be regulation. And some of it will be frankly, actually, how do we fast track consenting so that we don't get locked in a loop of endless conversation and talk and actually things not getting done.”

“We are here to turn the country around. We are here to deliver actions. That's why we've got 100 day action plan and that's what we're here to do. Yeah, it was good to get a sense of the priorities of where we think we can put some emphasis and some push.”

In an interview with Hawke’s Bay App after the meeting, Little said that while he was not expecting the cheque book to be opened on this trip, he was happy with how it went.

“We talked about everything really. We told them where we're at and we're not in a good place, obviously. We talked about our lack of river protection at this stage and how it's really not helping us rebuild. And we also talked about we don't really know why we flooded and we need to get that work done, and any help you can give us for that as well.”

“Obviously it leads to getting people back in their homes and how desperate we are. And it's a huge job at home after he left, and it's not a good look. To be quite honest, it's pretty sad to these people not knowing what their future holds for them, is looking like in a Third World country in some of those homes.”

Little said he was pleased that his region was the first that the Prime Minister has visited.

“He's a pretty astute sort of man. He will work out what's what and what's needed across probably the country, to be quite honest, and work out the needs and who's got more needs than others and things like that. He got it that we're obviously the most isolated per capita, the highest deprivation index.”

Returning to Napier, Luxon met with the Mayors of Napier and Hastings, Kirsten Wise and Sandra Hazlehurst; the Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Hinewai Ormsby; Central Hawke’s Bay District Mayor Alex Walker; and Bayden Barber, the Chair of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated (NKII) among others.

“We've all visited here independently in opposition many, many times and have had those relationships and those conversations as well. But it's good to be able to understand what we need to be accelerating.”

“It was a really good day to actually say, look, we're going to continue everything that the previous government has put in place. We don't want to turn all of that upside down, but we are here to make sure that we can unblock things. If there's things that need to be and decisions that need to be made to keep things moving along quickly, that's what we're going to do as well.”

Mitchell said in a statement that the visit reinforced the coalition Government’s commitment to support the region and better understand its ongoing requirements.

“My focus has been to get on the ground to talk to people and find out what their needs are. People here know what they need, and it’s our job to remove any barriers and support them to recover.”

“These visits are an important part of this Government’s 100-day plan. It is critical this recovery is locally led, with support from government. Today marks what will be the first of many ongoing meetings.”

“These conversations will better inform and shape our understanding of what additional Orders in Council are needed to speed up recovery efforts. We hope to also identify further areas today where we can unlock or remove barriers to get things moving more efficiently.”

““The ongoing struggles these communities are facing is evident following the extreme damage and disruption caused by the cyclone.”

 Watch the accompanying video to see the full media conference with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.