River management and flood protection schemes, managed by regional councils and unitary authorities are the reason that many New Zealanders do not face the full consequences of damaging flood events, the most frequent natural hazard experienced in New Zealand.
Through the COVID-19 Recovery and Response Fund, Kānoa - the Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit invested over $200 million dollars in July 2020 to support regional councils and unitary authorities to protect communities and build resilience, so they are better able to cope with the impact of extreme weather events.
Research indicates that current flood protection schemes have generally been well maintained in their current configuration, but the intensity and frequency of climate change-induced weather events are placing stress on the integrity and risk reduction capability of these structures. Protection exists for 100 New Zealand towns and cities.
The schemes protect 5% of New Zealand’s land area, most of it being highly productive land. The present value of the 364 schemes in New Zealand is $11 billion per annum with a replacement value of $2.3 billion.
Climate change will see more storm surges and heavy rainfall events endangering NZ communities, infrastructure and agricultural/horticultural economies. If protection measures are not replaced to withstand more frequent and potentially more intense weather events in the future the impacts could be devastating.
Building resilient river communities throughout NZ will reduce environmental, economic and social damage caused by flooding. It also brings new jobs to the regions to support local economies and social wellbeing in the wake of COVID-19 job-losses.
The sector is making good progress to deliver the intended outcomes of central government and community investment in these projects. We’re building resilient river communities.