A Hawke's Bay regional councillor says another report into Napier's flood response is needed, because two commission reports so far have failed to fully examine the city's flood protection system.
The reports released last week into the November flood show an emergency response hampered by disorganisation, staff shortages and pumping problems.
But regional councillor Neil Kirton says they don't go far enough, describing them as "another in the long list of failures arising from the event".
Napier City Council has consistently stated that the city's flood protection system performed as expected, but November 9's "one-in-100-year" deluge was overwhelming.
But Kirton says the focus on the significant rain was being used by those involved to "hide" the failings in management and systems.
The more than 240mm of rain caused close to $90 million in damages, and made 115 dwellings uninhabitable, creating at least 173 evacuees. Seven residents remain at a council holiday park at present.
Two reports were commissioned looking at how local councils and civil defence responded to the November flooding - one by Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the other by Toa Consulting.
Both highlighted issues relating to the shortage of people and resources, in part from some council staff citing Covid-19 fatigue, while others felt they lacked the necessary leadership skills and training for the roles they were placed in.
It also found the intensity of rainfall was "far beyond the design capacity or capability" of Napier City Council's drainage system, with additional issues relating to debris clearance and long power outages for pumps.
Kirton said the reports highlighted a "woeful lack of leadership and glaring mistakes", such as allowing traffic to drive through floodwaters, caused "many more millions of dollars' damage".
He called for a new and completely independent hazard report, with a specific focus on the city's drainage system and pump problems that occurred.
"The two reports presented to council are a 'major fail' in providing the answers to serious questions around the performance of Napier flood control assets owned collectively, by NCC and the HBRC.
"The thousands of Napier residents who had water flowing through their houses costing tens of millions of dollars are entitled to know exactly what went on."
He said a focus on the weather data had the effect of "hiding" the actual performance and problems in operating the drainage assets.
"The report opens itself up to criticism that staff are hiding poor operating performance behind the weather story."
Regional council and civil defence committee chairman Rick Barker said there was no hiding from the actions needing to be taken and the group was committed to the issues raised in the reports.
"The two reports, prepared with independent expert input, clearly identified the key issues to be addressed for the future, including improved coordination between the agencies and better tools and staffing arrangements to respond to emergencies.
He said the reports highlighted that despite all of the challenges, the agencies generally worked well and did a good job of protecting the community in an "overwhelming event".
The weather conditions would have still caused major flooding even if the stormwater assets had not been affected by performance issues such as power outages, he said, due to the intense nature of the rainfall.
"Both councils have commissioned an independent review of their joint operating agreement."
He also pointed to a major review underway of NCC's stormwater network and HBRC recent funding of a review of its Napier-Meeanee flood scheme.
An NCC spokesperson said "collaboration, quick thinking and teamwork between NCC staff and other councils and agencies had a positive impact", which they said was supported by the reports.
"All major stormwater pump stations were staffed throughout the event to make sure weed screens were kept clear and pumping continued uninterrupted.
"Power issues meant pumping at some sites was impacted. Overall, pump stations operated as expected with minor issues not affecting their operation.
"[...] The reports concluded that the volume of rainfall grossly exceeded the design capacity of the stormwater network."
At a meeting of the Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Joint Committee on Monday, Napier mayor Kirsten Wise noted there were areas the reports left unaddressed.
She said the report did not include analysis of the asset performance as stated in the executive summary, suggesting the report created expectations that were not met.
Nor did it cover off "any findings or assess the co-management of the network, maximum capacity operation issues resolutions in the network during the event", she said.
She said the actual analysis which led to those conclusions stated in the summary hadn't been included in the report.
With climate change making events like this more common, she said the focus needed to be on "making communities more resilient".
Barker said while there were challenges, he would not play the blame game.
"The problem we have with these sorts of reports is there are those around who wish to point and blame, because humans do have a penchant for bloodsports.
"But we're going to do our best to avoid that, just to pick it up, move forward and be better prepared for the next one."
FUTURE HOUSING: 1.5-2M ABOVE GROUND?
During Monday's meeting, the regional council's engineering team leader Craig Goodier noted newer houses in Te Awa Estates, in one of the lowest parts of the city and where the rain was heaviest, were not damaged during the event.
He said this was in part due to the pond and nearby pumps but also related to the homes being built on higher elevations.
"If we're talking about new housing, perhaps we should be using minimum elevations of 1.5 and 2 metres," he said.