Buller Recovery Steering Group Independent Chair, Richard Kempthorne, explains the role of the Steering Group in the recovery process.

“The Buller Recovery Steering Group was established last year to support the Buller flood recovery effort including overseeing Government recovery funding. The Steering Group  has more recently also  been tasked with identifying and recommending an integrated package of long-term resilience measures to increase the resilience of Westport and its surrounds from future flood events.

“The Steering Group has established a cross-agency project to  investigate longer-term flood recovery priorities and  measures that will make up this integrated package, and be put forward for possible funding through a co-investment approach with Government.

“The Steering Group will report back to elected Council members  of both the West Coast Regional Council,  and Buller District Council with the recommended package of measures by the end of June 2022.  Subject to the Councils’ and iwi agreement on the package, a proposal  to seek co-investment from central government will then be made to the Minister of Local Government. 

“It is important to note that the Steering Group itself will not be making any decisions on behalf of Buller residents. The project team reporting to the Steering Group has been tasked with considering all options for long-term flood resilience in Westport.  This cross-agency team will then report back to both the BDC and WCRC, via the Steering Group, for agreement, before a proposal is made to Central Government for funding.  It seems to me that Government funding will be crucial for the people in Westport and Buller. This is a necessary process and is nothing out of the ordinary.”

Mr Kempthorne, the former Mayor of the Tasman District Council, is the Independent Chair of Buller Recovery Steering Group.