Local Democracy Reporting is asking Rotorua election candidates what they and their party would do to help some of the local people who have shared their struggles and stories with readers. Bryce Allan is a Rotomā resident and auto-mechanic with first-hand experience of climate change.
Record rain and an unknown geothermal spring led to 100mm of water flooding Rotomā's only garage this year. But owner Bryce Allan does not yet have the lake lapping at his door, unlike some lakeside homeowners.
The Rotomā Auto Repair auto mechanic worked around the clock to pump the water out as the ground remained saturated and the water table high.
He bought the property 40 years ago and, until last March, did not know there was a geothermal spring beneath his building.
He is still unable to use his workshop because of rust from metal reacting with the geothermal water, and is still pumping water out.
The reality is more frequent extreme weather events — including droughts and deluge — are expected with a changing climate.
Allan said he was keen to know how candidates and their parties would help with situations like his, and how they would address climate change-related issues in the electorate and the country.
Rotorua candidate responses
Ben Sandford (Labour Party)
We are living in a climate crisis; we need a government that recognises the urgency of this and will act now.
Labour has introduced the Zero Carbon Act, established the Climate Change Commission and much more.
Our emissions have fallen for three consecutive years. Tackling the climate crisis is an opportunity to improve wellbeing, increase resilience, and become a global leader in this space.
We will continue to work with affected local communities, develop a new Climate Adaption Framework and National Adaption Plan to ensure resilience and effective mitigation and adaption, as well as provide for just transitions.
Todd McClay (National Party)
Bryce’s personal situation is deeply concerning and saddening to hear.
It highlights the need for a plan to tackle the ongoing and increasing impacts of climate change we are experiencing both locally and across the country.
National will gather central and local government as well as banks, insurers, and communities to develop a Climate Adaptation Framework so that when weather events or disasters occur, we have the tools and plan to manage the issues that arise, including any relocations or buyouts.
No one group has all the answers, so National will bring together affected parties to work out joint solutions.
Marten Rozeboom (Act)
This is why adaptation should be a priority. An increased risk of floods, storms and droughts requires an infrastructure response, enabled by simpler planning and consenting pathways.
Act is proposing exactly that; our proposed replacement for the Resource Management Act (RMA) will allow asset owners to build flood protection quickly.
Find workable solutions for geothermal water instead of being stuck in an endless battle for consents.
Kariana Black-Vercoe (New Zeal)
It has been a soaked, drenched two years and I feel for all those affected by excessive weather patterns, such as Bryce has experienced.
Our party sits on the position of sensible decision-making when climate matters are concerned.
Kaitiakitanga is a core value NewZeal party upholds — the balance between protecting our ecology as well as “tāngata” people.
So, all people, as well as our environment can prosper and thrive. Including our farmers who provide our food.
Merepeka Raukawa-Tait (Te Pāti Māori)
Everything points to more adverse weather events happening in New Zealand.
We love our lakeside properties but in future we will need to be more conscious about where we build, materials we use and I think consenting will probably become hotly debated with local councils.
Has the Rotorua Lakes Council approached other councils asking how they dealt with a similar problem?
A business is at stake here. I believe it will be young people driving action on climate change.
Successive governments could have planned for climate change and environmental impacts long before now. A case of too little too late.
- Independent candidate Jonn Naera was also approached.
Editor’s note: Submissions may have been edited
Laura Smith is a Local Democracy Reporting journalist based at the Rotorua Daily Post. She previously reported general news for the Otago Daily Times and Southland Express, and has been a journalist for four years.
- Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Jonn Naera’s name.