Nearly four weeks have passed since the flash floods in Bay of Plenty, but some Matata residents have another four weeks to wait - and possibly much longer - to learn the fate of their properties.

The Whakatane District Council has told residents of 27 damaged properties that they must wait until July 12 for the results of an investigation into the safety of their land for future rebuilding.

The council has refused to reveal what is likely to happen after the investigation, but said yesterday that decisions on long-term land use would be made after the release of initial findings.

Residents of the affected properties said the wait was hugely stressful.

"We'll all be in limbo up to July 12," said Marilyn Pearce, whose house and beachfront section were swamped by mud and left uninhabitable by the disaster.

Mrs Pearce, who spent several weeks after the floods sleeping on the floor of the cafe she owns, said she and her neighbours worried about receiving inadequate compensation if their land was deemed unsuitable for rebuilding.

She said beachfront properties in Matata were worth as much as $1 million.

"Will the council give you that? I don't think so."

Mrs Pearce also doubted whether they would be moved to new beachfront sections if their land was condemned.

Her only hope was that the council would "do the right thing".

Diane Turner, the council's director of environment and policy, said the length of the investigation was not excessive considering the range of geotechnical and engineering information being collated.

She refused to disclose any preliminary findings, saying only that the investigation would "reach some conclusions".

Decisions on long-term land use would come later, Ms Turner said.

"There are a complex range of issues that need to be dealt with."

Narelle Boonen, who is living in a rented property in Whakatane with her two young daughters, said she was desperate to know her property's fate. "I just want the council to come back with a firm decision either way." Not knowing whether she could rebuild was making life hard.

"We can't make any big plans. We have to put everything on hold."

Even Matata residents whose homes were not affected are finding the wait stressful.

"We're concerned for everybody," said householder Jane Hodgson.

Ms Turner said the community would be the first to know the investigation results.

But she could not say whether that would happen at a public meeting or by some other means.

"We have not thought that far ahead."

She said the council was making every endeavour to keep residents up-to-date with other flood-related matters in a weekly newsletter.

* "Rubber-neckers" driving into Matata to see the damage have added to the woes of the townspeople.

The problem was particularly bad at Queen's Birthday Weekend, when several cars drove up muddy driveways and got stuck.

Said Mrs Pearce: "It was just extra pressure for people at their wits' end."