So, one of the first things that may happen after a climate emergency has been declared in Hawke's Bay, is the establishment of a new committee.

In a way, it makes sense - what else would you do in the wake of an emergency that is a piece of political symbolism?

The "emergency" establishes that the region is serious about the issue. And to be fair to the regional council, there is little suggestion that they are blase about the subject.

As for the new committee, regional council chairman Rex Graham flagged before the emergency's declaration today that he wants input from the region's mayors on climate change and what we do.


He says the collective would be similar to the Coastal Hazards Joint Committee, and the region's mayors are supportive of the concept.

Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing our region, and the world.
And so it should be.

Take water. The region's aquifers, rivers, and coast are hugely important to Hawke's Bay.

In Clive, rising sea levels are forcing about 60 intellectually disabled Hawke's Bay residents to leave Hohepa, their base.

Hohepa's business manager Neil Kirton is a regional councillor, so he is acutely tuned into the potential impact of climate change.

Hohepa is moving after commissioning a report from civil engineering and infrastructure consultants WSP Opus.

Kirton also says the Clive site is prone to flooding, and has been evacuated three times due to flooding.

Graham says the move is the first major implication of climate change in Hawke's Bay.


"It's bloody serious."

It's also bloody expensive - moving will cost Hohepa an estimated $10.5 million, a cost likely to climb the longer the move is left.

Whilst Hohepa's location adjacent to two rivers makes it particularly susceptible, rising sea levels also puts the spotlight on the nearby town of Clive.

And industry based at Awatoto, a stone's throw from the South Pacific Ocean that has a habit of dumping large volumes of water on the shore, churning tonnes of pebbles.

Pebbles that originate from nearby rivers. Climate change?

Any regional council in NZ has little choice but to join the "emergency" trend.

To not do so in an election year would be political suicide.

And in doing so, it makes the council accountable.

Because, having now declared an emergency, any person with a remote interest in climate change is asking "what are they going to do about it?"