Luxon is out of the capital today, assessing damage to Wairoa from recent rainfall in a region still suffering the after-effects of the cyclone.
Speaking from Wairoa, Luxon told media “it’s a good day to say, look, we’re going to continue all the good things the last Government put in place”.
“We’re going to unblock things as well,” Luxon said.
He had a “fantastic conversation” with Wairoa mayor Craig Little, Luxon said.
Wairoa “is not forgotten,” Luxon said.
“That’s why we wanted to come.”
Luxon said he drove along State Highway 2, “had the full experience, and had an explanation of every 100m of that road”.
“State Highway 2 is in really bad shape,” he said.
He called some of the damage “profound and serious”.
“We want to get an assessment of what is needed. Some of it will be money and some of it will be consenting.
“As you’ve seen in New Zealand over many years, we get stuck in this loop of conversation and still nothing gets done.
He said it was “exciting” to see how Hawke’s Bay councils had been working together.
“The community here has been very well represented by local leaders,” he said.
Luxon said Transport Minister Simeon Brown would be back in Hawke’s Bay next week.
“Our job here is to make sure as we hit the year [anniversary] mark we have a plan for the recovery.
On the roads’ conditions, Luxon said, “every time it’s closed it’s about a loss of $3 million in productivity in the local economy. It’s profound.”
He said the railway was a low priority, “good money going after bad”, and “something we shouldn’t be progressing”.
On buyouts of Māori land, Luxon acknowledged it was behind buyouts of “general land”.
“We’re looking at ways we can speed that up,” he said.
Heavy rain hit the Wairoa and Tairāwhiti area late last month, some parts recording more than 300mm over two days.
The ensuing flooding isolated rural communities and closed more than 20 roads, according to Wairoa District Council.
Earlier in November, extensive rainfall led to homes being evacuated, schools closing and roads being blocked.
Luxon toured damaged areas in Wairoa this morning before meeting council representatives.
He was expected to travel south through the region where he would hold further meetings and speak to media.
Luxon’s trip followed entertaining and at times fiery displays in the House as New Zealand First’s return to the debating chamber led to its leader Winston Peters locking horns with Te Pāti Māori and the Green Party.
In his first Question Time as Prime Minister yesterday, Christopher Luxon said his new Government had not committed to a referendum on the Treaty principles bill.
Asked about the Treaty principles legislation, Luxon appeared to suggest National would not allow the Act Party’s Treaty Principles legislation to proceed beyond select committee.
He said a bill would be supported to select committee, as said in the coalition agreement, but “that’s as far as it will go”.
Luxon appeared to be speaking about Act’s Treaty principles bill. He may also have been speaking about a NZ First Treaty principles bill, although National has promised to pass this through all stages.
Meanwhile, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer yelled across the House to NZ First MP Shane Jones to join the party, after he attacked her co-leader Rawiri Waitit’s headgear, worn on Wednesday, describing it as looking like a “muttonbird”.
“Come and join us if you’re so obsessed with us,” Ngarewa-Packer said.
At the outset of Question Time, Labour opted for a pop quiz tactic with the new National Government - with some success.
Opposition leader Chris Hipkins nearly had his first question gazumped by a surprise debate on the new Government calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which Hipkins thought would happen later.
Hipkins raised this in the House, expressing his concern that the Government had decided to move a debate on the ceasefire today, trumping his question on the same subject.
He fought back, however, asking Luxon whether he could tell the difference between things like a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause. Luxon, apparently not knowing the difference, did not address the question.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters bailed Luxon out, coming to the rescue with a supplementary question, whether the Government had put its name to a recent United Nations statement on Gaza. Luxon answered in the affirmative.
Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.