Napier City Council hopes an early start can be made on stormwater upgrade costing up to $15 million in suburban Maraenui as the council moves through the stages of Kāinga Ora Infrastructure Acceleration Fund approval.
The council application for $12.35m from the fund has reached a short list of 35, from about 200 applications made nationwide since the fund was launched 11 months ago.
Kainga Ora says it plans to complete the approval process this year for all the shortlisted projects.
Mayor Kirsten Wise believes this next step in the process is a positive one for the community, as securing the fund would mean ability for increased housing in the area and resilience against the effects of extreme weather events.
Almost every street in Maraenui was swamped in one of Napier's worst floods, in which rainfall of over 200mm was recorded in just a few hours on November 9, 2020 – more than four times the historic November average for the city.
There was also major flooding of the Maraenui Rugby and Sports Association clubrooms at the corner of Waterworth and Dinwiddie avenues, beside a creek between the facilities and the site of a proposed housing development.
The council says Maraenui is one of the worst-affected suburbs in terms of flooding in Napier, and securing the fund will see flood mitigation work take place in the area, enabling over 150 homes to be built while also improving resilience for those already living in the area.
"Improvements to our current housing shortage will have a huge impact on the wellbeing of people living here," Wise said. The multi-stage application process has seen council successfully pass through the Expression of Interest stage and the Request for Proposal stage, with 35 proposals now entering the final stage of the process.
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The application is supported by Te Taiwhenua o Te Whanganui ā Orotu, Mana Ahuriri and Ngāti Kahungunu.
The council has also been working with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council to improve flood protection in urban Napier, with a review started after the 2020 floods due in mid-year, says regional councillor Neil Kirton.
"We've started reviewing how we operate Napier urban waterways which is a big piece of work from decades of shared operations in the scheme," he said. "This review will be finished mid-year, and a proposal will go to both councils about how we manage the waterways going forward.
"We're also going to be working on our control system for the pump stations to give us better data to be able to respond accurately to more intense rain events happening due to climate change."
The HBRC has tagged $1 million for resilience improvements in the waterway network in the 2022-2023 financial year.
Regional councillor Hinewai Ormsby says a new consent for the councils to manage Napier urban waterways will improve the water quality in the area to make sure tamariki have a cleaner and safer estuary.
Regional councillor Martin Williams says collaboration between the councils and staff has been key to achieve the progress and will continue with community input.