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Cyclone Gabrielle voluntary buy-out process well underway

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All Cyclone Gabrielle Category 3 property owners in Hastings and Napier have been contacted by the Voluntary Buy-out Office (VBO) team, with 85 having had their first in-person meeting or scheduled to do so.

The affected residents have homes in areas considered too risky to live in during extreme weather events and can have their residential properties purchased through the buy-out initiative.

The buy-outs are being funded 50/50 by Government and the council of the area the property is in. In Hawke’s Bay, Napier and Hastings are the only two areas with Category 3 properties. The two councils agreed to a joint VBO approach.

By Monday [November 13] all 140 property owners had been contacted (14 in Napier, 126 in Hastings). Ninety per cent of those have indicated they are ready to engage with the four-step process: information; valuation; offer; completion. Property owners can step out of the process at any of those stages should they wish to.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the priority is to help people get to a point where they can get on with their lives as quickly as possible.

“For our most impacted residents this has been an incredibly long and stressful 10 months.

“Having the buy-out office make such excellent progress in the time they have had since the funding agreement was settled between Government and councils is heartening, but I’m aware this will not be the answer everyone wanted.

“I’m also acutely aware that our people in Category 2 areas are still waiting on solutions that will help them make decisions. I assure those residents that we are working closely with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on what can be done to mitigate the risks.”

Napier mayor Kirsten Wise said it had been a long and challenging journey for Category 3 property owners.

“I am relieved that affected property owners now have a clear way to progress their buyouts and can move forward with their lives. I am grateful for their patience as our teams throughout the region have worked through this extremely complex process.”

Strong support for owners of properties within Category 2 and 3 areas continues, with every owner in Category 3 areas supported by a Community Connector who can facilitate contact with appropriate services, including building officers, social services and mental health support. Connectors are also available for those residents in Category 2C and 2P.

14 November 2023

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