The independent review of the devastating April 29 floods in Rotorua is under way with former Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell part of the review panel.

Judith Stanway will chair the independent panel which will review what happened and what contributed to flooding in Ngongotaha on April 29 and make recommendations for future mitigations.

The other panel members are Flavell, Rob van Voorthuysen and Kyle Christensen.

The joint Rotorua Lakes Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council review aims to learn from what happened and what contributed to the flooding, and to improve the two councils' ability to mitigate against, and minimise the impact of, adverse weather events.

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Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said she was pleased the panel was now in place and beginning its work.

"It's very important to us that we learn from what happened, particularly given the increased frequency of adverse weather events and the understandable concern of our community about that."

While the review will focus on Ngongotaha, it is expected to highlight learnings that can be applied across the district.

Independent review panel Kyle Christensen, left, Judith Stanway, Rob van Voorthuysen, and Te Ururoa Flavell.
Independent review panel Kyle Christensen, left, Judith Stanway, Rob van Voorthuysen, and Te Ururoa Flavell.

"We expect the recommendations that come out of this review will inform future infrastructure needs and help guide future decision-making," Chadwick said.

The two councils stated that current practice was for stormwater infrastructure to be designed to cope with a one in a 50-year event and for water courses within stop-banked urban river scheme areas to be designed to cope with a one in a 100-year event.

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However, the council's terms of reference stated while this had been seen as a prudent approach in the past, climate change and the advent of more frequent extreme weather events raised a question as to the ongoing acceptability of the policy in the future.

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The terms noted that this was a serious issue and one which could have far reaching consequences for all Rotorua residents.

Stanway said she commended the two councils for taking this step.

Mobile users click here to read terms of reference

"It's important people understand this isn't about blame but about looking forward. Our job is to understand the event and make recommendations for the future.

"The review is now under way - we've had an initial meeting and we are planning meetings with expert engineers and with some of the affected residents.

"We'll also be looking to organise a drop-in session in Ngongotaha."

The terms of reference were worked through and agreed by the chief executives of the two councils and are available on the Rotorua Lakes Council website.

The panel will consider regional and district planning matters, engineering options, stormwater, catchment management, future land use and subdivision development considerations and mātauranga Māori (māori knowledge).

The cost of the review will be shared between the two councils.

About the panel members:
Judith Stanway:

Professional businesswoman and consultant with extensive experience in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors including charities and Maori trusts; fellow of the Institute of Accountants and a fellow of the Institute of Directors; former managing partner of BDO Rotorua; has lectured at various NZ universities and polytechnics, former board member of BDO New Zealand, Charities Commission, Scion, Lakeland Health, Te Puia; current/former president of the Rotary Club, Rotary Sunrise.

Te Ururoa Flavell:

Consultant and politics lecturer/course assessor at Victoria and Waikato universities; former Māori Party co-leader, Waiariki MP, Associate Minister Economic Development and Minister of Māori Development and Whanau Ora; former member of Parliamentary Services Commission committee and select committees for Māori affairs, education and science, business, commerce, standing orders, privileges, officers of parliament.

Rob van Voorthuysen:

Director of Van Voorthuysen Environmental Ltd consultancy with 31 years' experience in environmental and resource management, policy analysis and senior corporate management in the central and local government sectors; formerly on staff at Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Environment Waikato, Department of Conservation and Ministry of Works and Development.

Kyle Christensen:

Water resources engineer and consultant with 18 years' experience in river and stormwater engineering. Practice assessor for Engineering New Zealand (formerly IPENZ) and immediate past chair of Engineering NZ/Water NZ Rivers Group. Expert technical advisor for formal determination processes relating to flood hazard mitigation requirements under the Building Act;
Expert engineer on 2017 Rangitaiki River Scheme Review Panel.