Risks – and rewards – are high as Hipkins and his team begin the task of reconstruction

Having  declared  he  would be  “absolutely focussed” on the  cost-of-living crisis, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has another crisis even more pressing on his hands, and perhaps longer lasting, as the  country reels  under  the ravages of Cyclone  Gabrielle.

New Zealanders could scarcely  credit what they were seeing  when television news programmes  presented the visual evidence  of the damage wrought by the storm.

In the hardest-hit regions, thousands of  homes were plunged  into darkness, and  hundreds of people had to be rescued  from the roofs of  their homes  as flood waters raced  past. In Auckland  80  roads  had  to be closed.

Restoration of  damaged  homes will put a strain on the already over-stretched building industry, just as  the government’s  own resources will be stretched in rebuilding bridges that were swept  away and restoring the roading system  throughout many regions that suffered extensive damage.

Clearly  the PM, and the Minister  of Emergency Management, Kieran McAnulty, were justified in over-ruling officials  to declare a  state of national emergency.  It is only  the third time  in the country’s  history this has been done and it gives the government the  power not  just to support the regions, but to provide the additional resources those regions  will need.

The  frailties of much of the  country’s infrastructure were  exposed, not  least in the electricity system  when a sub-station in Hawke’s Bay  was so damaged it left much of the region in darkness.

Some are already questioning what happens to people living in homes on floodplains, on cliff edges or by the coast  Who pays for the roads and pipes that serve these homes, especially as people start to move away, leaving costly infrastructure serving fewer and fewer homes?

This will  be  a  challenge for all  political parties which will  have to study  the issues and  prepare  answers both constructive  and  somehow  properly priced.

The need to plan an orderly retreat from climate change-threatened areas has been kicking around for more than a decade.

As  the NZ Herald  has pointed out, this issue was placed  on the Government’s agenda after the Zero Carbon Bill negotiations wrapped up when Tony Randerson delivered his recommendations on what the Government should do with the beleaguered Resource Management Act (RMA).

Randerson recommended a scheme that involved long-term spatial planning, looking into the future 30 years and seeing what sort of areas should be developed, what sort of infrastructure would be needed and what environments would be protected.

The latest storm has injected  a new  urgency on politicians to tackle the issue.

Will Hipkins  and his  team  be up to it?

So far,  their  response has brought praise,  even  from  opponents.  ACT leader David Seymour  told AM it is hard to fault a Government “trying to react as quickly as possible like everybody else as the waters rose and their homes were in danger”.

The risks—and the rewards—of  what happens now are  incalculable.

2 thoughts on “Risks – and rewards – are high as Hipkins and his team begin the task of reconstruction

  1. I’m not sure why their response has brought praise, because they haven’t done anything except turn up, act sympathetic, declare a state of emergency, and promised to spend more taxpayers money (in my cynical opinion, to buy votes again – which has been their consistent modus operandi). I could be wrong, they may actually take effective action and help people without wasting money and favouring their elite pressure groups. And pigs might take flight internationally.


  2. By “climate change” I assume you mean “anthropomorphic climate change”.

    But has this been proven?

    For example, has the allowed space for debate on anthropomorphic climate change been more robust than the bullshit permitted space for debate on the pandemic and associated responses – including the bullshit vaccines?

    I have absolutely zero faith in the leaders of this country to make decisions based on actual evidence. Over the course of the pandemic, they have proven themselves to be a pack of fascist clowns.

    Floods happen!


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