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4 Steering Group Recommendations

The Steering Group has considered the findings from the Flood Risk Management Review and the group’s recommendations are given below. The recommendations are set in the wider context of local and central government policy on sustainability and climate change.

Flooding will always be a part of living in New Zealand, and decisions will need to be made continually on the best ways to manage the flood risk in response to the weather and people’s expectations. The challenge New Zealand faces now is how best to reduce the damages and losses from flooding as part of our everyday living and working lives.

Vision and decision-making principles

  1. The Steering Group notes the findings from the Flood Risk Management Review, as set out in Appendix 2.
  2. The Steering Group suggests the following vision to reduce the flood risk in New Zealand should be adopted by the Government:

    Individuals, communities and New Zealand society will understand and take responsibility for actively reducing the consequences of flooding by:
    • accepting that natural processes in the wider catchment determine long-term solutions
    • managing our activities, lands and waters to reduce damages and losses to an acceptable level

    • considering people’s social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing

    • integrating climate change and variability into decision-making.
  3. The Steering Group suggests that the following decision-making principles to reduce flood risk be adopted by central government to support the above vision. Decisions need to:
    • take a long-term risk management perspective, including climate change, residual risk6 and having a 'no regrets' precautionary approach to risk and uncertainty
    • respect environmental limits and natural processes, including river and catchment processes, and protecting the life-supporting capacity of water, soil and ecosystems
    • integrate flood risk management with sustainable land management and catchment management policies and decisions that affect the magnitude of flooding and/or the consequences of flooding
    • consider the consequences of flooding, including the resilience and vulnerability of communities and infrastructure as well as the risk to life and property
    • ensure individuals and communities take primary responsibility for their safety and livelihoods
    • take a partnership approach with, and between, central government, local authorities, communities and Māori
    • recognise that local, regional and national perspectives are different and may require different inputs with different goals and outcomes
    • make decisions at the appropriate level of government that maximise the outcomes sought in flood risk and catchment management, and that are based on the robust evaluation of options, costs and benefits over time and across the community
    • include informed communities as part of decision-making about levels of acceptable risk and mitigation measures for those communities
    • use adaptive management that is responsive to change over time and that optimises sustainable structural, non-structural and emergency management solutions.

Roles and responsibilities

  1. The Steering Group recommends the following community, local government and central government roles should be adopted to reduce the flood risk.

    Individuals, communities and the private sector should:

    • take responsibility for their family, personal safety, and the decisions they make
    • take responsibility for business decisions

    • understand their level of flood risk (including any residual risk) and accept liability for their decisions

    • be informed and active in decision-making.
       

    Territorial authorities should:

  • show leadership locally and adopt a risk management approach to implement risk reduction policies, methods and regulation
  • identify and manage residual risk
  • work together with communities, iwi, regional councils, beneficiaries and exacerbators in decision-making and agreeing on roles
  • sustainably manage the effects of land use and people’s activities to reduce the flood risk
  • use the Building Act and Building Code as part of a comprehensive approach to risk management, including flood-proofing buildings
  • manage civil defence and emergency management locally
  • build stakeholders’ awareness of risk.
     

Regional authorities should:

  • show leadership regionally and adopt a risk management approach to implement risk reduction policies, methods and regulation
  • identify and manage residual risk

  • work together with communities, iwi, territorial authorities, beneficiaries and exacerbators in decision-making and agreeing on roles

  • sustainably manage water and land to reduce the flood risk

  • manage civil defence and emergency management regionally

  • build stakeholders’ awareness of risk.
     

Central government should

  • show leadership and provide clear direction on reducing flood risk
  • adopt a risk management approach nationally and work with local government

  • ensure local government and communities have the necessary powers and tools to fulfil their roles and responsibilities

  • provide forecasts, weather warnings, science and research relevant to managing flood risk

  • contribute as a beneficiary towards reducing the flood risk, and be a 'good neighbour' by taking responsibility for Crown lands and assets

  • ensure that the policy of reducing the flood risk is integrated across all relevant government programmes

  • provide relief when an event has overwhelmed a community’s capacity to respond and recover from a flood.

Funding and affordability

  1. The Steering Group suggests a contestable safety net mechanism based on affordability should be provided by the Government and considered in the next budget to help less well-resourced communities manage the flood risk now and into the future.
  2. The Steering Group suggests the Ministry for the Environment should be directed to investigate if Crown contributions for rates on health and education lands are feasible, depending on the findings from the Rates Inquiry.

Future practice

  1. The Steering Group notes the following actions agreed by Cabinet to improve future practice:
    • providing planning and technical guidance
    • investigating using 'targeted assistance' (guidance and professional help) to less well-resourced councils
    • developing a national policy statement

    • investigating updating the regional flood frequency estimates

    • supporting the draft New Zealand Protocol to become a New Zealand Standard, under the Standards Act 1988

    • developing a monitoring framework

    • setting up a central government-led forum on flood risk management to promote good practice and productive relationships between stakeholders.
  2. The Steering Group suggests the following actions for central government to improve future practice:
    • adopt a risk management approach in relevant government programmes, with the aim of reducing risk
    • provide ongoing guidance and information so local government and practitioners can make risk assessments and develop management strategies

    • provide improved guidance and information on climate change and variability, weather radar and forecasting.

Local Government Position Statement

  1. The Steering Group supports the Local Government Position Statement in principle, as outlined in the main body of this report.

Future actions

The Steering Group suggests the Government should adopt a long-term work programme to implement policy to reduce flood risk in the long term.

The Steering Group supports local government’s proposed actions to manage the flood risk and achieve the vision of reducing the flood risk in the long term by implementing hazard avoidance, training practitioners and responding to land-use change and intensification.


6  Residual risk is the risk that remains after an action is taken to manage that risk; for instance, the risk to a community that a stopbank is overtopped in a flood that is larger than the stopbank is designed for.