Nearly $4 million of Government funding will be used to try and prevent a repeat of the 2018 floods in Ngongotahā.

The money is part of a $23m Government package aimed at addressing long-standing flood risks in the Bay of Plenty and will be funded by the Crown Infrastructure Partners' Infrastructure Reference Group's "shovel-ready" projects, which is administered by the Provincial Growth Fund.

In April 2018 Ngongotahā village was devastated by flooding after a once-in-100-year rain event, which saw 38 houses declared unsanitary.

As a result, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Rotorua Lakes Council commissioned a review into the floods to make recommendations to reduce the impact of severe flood events in the future.

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That report was published in December 2018 and made 24 recommendations including creating a specific chapter in the Rotorua District Plan that dealt with natural hazards.

Ngongotahā Stream running high after heavy rain in Rotorua, April 2018. Photo / File
Ngongotahā Stream running high after heavy rain in Rotorua, April 2018. Photo / File

Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council integrated catchments manager Chris Ingle said the Ngongotahā Flood Review Project was a joint Rotorua Lakes Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council programme of action to implement the recommendations of the review.

He said the $3.7m funding was for flood mitigation actions to reduce the risk of flooding to people and properties within the Ngongotahā community and would be undertaken by the regional council.

That programme of action, particularly that relating to engineering options, was guided by a community reference group made up of 10 Ngongotahā community representatives.

The flood mitigation actions were a "suite of work" comprising the removal of problematic trees, creation of multiple detainment bunds on farmland on the Mamaku Plateau and engineering work closer to the village itself.

The latter included options to raise a section of Western Rd to act as a flood defence, diverting water away from residential areas, as well as creating, or enhancing a series of bypasses and "flowpaths" to "convey" floodwaters away from homes, he said.

As the project was "shovel-ready", some aspects of the work would start immediately, he said.

He said the overall Bay of Plenty River Schemes Flood Resilience Project would create at least 80 full-time equivalent jobs, and some of those would be created at various stages of the Ngongotahā works.

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The number of jobs created by the engineering construction aspects would be determined by the final mitigation designs chosen, he said.

Elliot Pollard at he and wife Jenny's Ngongotahā home. Photo / File
Elliot Pollard at he and wife Jenny's Ngongotahā home. Photo / File

Ingle said detailed design work was under way on engineering solutions and those would be shared with those directly affected by the 2018 flood, and the wider community later in August, with construction would start later this year, running until mid-2021.

Rotorua Lakes Council Ngongotahā flood review project manager Elva Conroy said the majority of actions for the project were completed or in progress.

Eleven of 19 "actions" had been achieved, she said, with six completed actions "ongoing".

Five were in progress but running behind schedule.

Those were analysis of flood mitigation options and associated engagement with the Ngongotahā community; completion of the stream maintenance plan; the establishment of the working group for the Ngongotahā Community Response Plan; the review of the District Plan; and the construction of detainment bunds in the upper catchment.

"Three actions are reliant on the completion of other actions," she said.

She said the reasons some actions were behind schedule included "the complexity of work" and "the time needed to enable community-driven action".

In 2019 the project completed stream repairs from the 2018 flood, removed 30 large and at-risk trees, as well as establishing the community reference group.

That group included Lyall Thurston, who was also a Bay of Plenty Regional councillor and DHB member.

Thurston said the group was "absolutely delighted" with the announced funding for Ngongotahā and said it would "go a substantial way" to addressing the issues in the area.

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Community reference group member and Bay of Plenty Regional councillor Lyall Thurston. Photo / File
Community reference group member and Bay of Plenty Regional councillor Lyall Thurston. Photo / File

"Quite frankly, a section of [the Ngongotahā] community went to hell and back. Mother nature being what it is, we can't … exclude it ever happening again, but we can put initiatives in place to minimise it happening ever again."

Elliot Pollard, along with wife Jenny, was one of the residents directly affected by the 2018 floods.

Pollard also sat on the community reference group and said the funding was a "hugely positive step".

"That funding is welcome with open arms.

"It was an extraordinary event and though you can never say no, [with this plan] it is highly, highly unlikely it will ever happen again."

Independent review chairwoman Judith Stanway has been sought for comment.

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