More than $26 million has been pledged by the Government to strengthen Northland roads and protect the region from future floods in the wake of last weekend's deluge.
The cash, which will come from the Provincial Growth Fund and the Covid Response and Recovery Fund, was announced yesterday by Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones and Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
On Friday and Saturday Whangārei and parts of the Mid North, especially Moerewa, were inundated by a ''one-in-500-year'' downpour which closed roads and flooded homes and businesses — just as the region was emerging from one of its worst droughts on record.
State Highway 1 remains closed south of Kaitaia due to eight slips in the Mangamuka Gorge.
Jones said $14.2m from the Provincial Growth Fund would be made available to the Far North District Council as soon as possible for road improvements.
While the council had already prepared a list of roads it felt needed upgrading, he had instructed officials to bump up the importance of roads and flood management around Ngapipito, Pokapu and Moerewa, the area worst hit last weekend.
''Around the Far North 165 locations have been damaged by recent floods, but to be honest the damage is just built on earlier flood events where slips have never fully been corrected. The $14m is an opportunity to deal with the consequences of the most recent flood but also to address areas where the FNDC has just not had the capita to get ahead.''
Acting Far North mayor Ann Court said the funding would be used for drainage, slip repairs and bridge improvements.
Other roads on the council list included Peria Rd and Oruru Rd because they served as back-up routes when main roads were closed.
With 2500km of roads in the Far North, 1800km of which were unsealed, the extra funding would not mean an improvement outside every home.
''But for our economic sell, the environment, the people who live on those roads, and maintenance costs, this is huge. I've been arguing for road funding for 20 years and every time we get a dollar I'm ecstatic,'' Court said.
Another $12.5m from the Covid Response and Recovery Fund has been granted to the Northland Regional Council to combat future flooding.
Robertson said it was part of $210m approved by Cabinet last month for ''shovel-ready'' flood protection projects nationwide.
"Along with helping to deal with the impact of the flooding, we're investing in infrastructure now to address some of the long-term challenges the New Zealand economy faces," he said.
Jones said regional leaders would work with the Whangārei District Council to address flooding problems in that area, as well as bringing forward flood prevention work already planned but now given more urgency at Moerewa, Panguru and the Awanui River.
In Panguru children regularly miss school because flooding makes the roads impassable.
Yesterday Jones visited Mangamuka Gorge to see the damage for himself. There is as yet no estimated reopening date for SH1 between Makene Rd and Victoria Valley Rd.
He questioned the ''one-in-500-year'' label applied to the storm. ''I suspect, climatically speaking, that the North is going to be pelted and, sadly, this is going to be far more common.''
Just last week Jones announced $30m in flood resilience funding for Otago and Southland, an area hit by serious flooding earlier this year.