A mere eight months ago the first sod of soil was turned signalling the start of Kokohinau Marae's papakainga housing development.

Yesterday the first step of the housing development on the outskirts of Edgecumbe was officially opened and has been named Te Ara a Te Ururoa Flavell, in honour of the man who instigated the project after the 2017 floods

Read more: Edgecumbe flood anniversary: A year of highs and lows
Edgecumbe is a community strengthened by disaster

A total of five two-bedroom homes have been built as well as infrastructure support to cater for up to 31 homes as the development grows.


The housing development will eventually be used for affordable housing but for now the five homes will be occupied by flood victims.

In Edgecumbe yesterday were Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Labour MPs Tamati Coffey and Kiri Allan, representatives of Ngati Awa hapu Pahipoto who are kaitiaki (guardians) of the land the development is built on, and members of the Kokohinau Papakainga Trust.

Nanaia Mahuta. Photo/Supplied
Nanaia Mahuta. Photo/Supplied

Representatives from Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the building firm responsible for the five homes, Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne and Rangitaiki Community Board chairwoman Charelle Stevenson were also there.

Stevenson said the past 12 months had been challenging for the people of Edgecumbe.

"The flood took away the simplest things in our daily routines, things like the roads, our supermarket, our medical centre and for some, our work.

"But most importantly it took away the stability of having a home."

She described the opening of the five homes and the placement of five flood-affected whanau as a new beginning, a ray of hope, and a wonderful opportunity to give stability.

Mahuta said it was not often a current minister could acknowledge the good contribution of a former minister in their portfolio.


"But I'll do it and I'll tell you why. In the spirit of manaakitanga, it takes a little bit of management and a little bit of foresight to say we need to do something. And Te Ururoa, you've been rightly acknowledged today in the role that you played in the flood response."

Kokohinau Papakainga Trust secretary Rihi Vercoe spoke of further developments the trust were involved in.