Regional | Māori

Whānau in limbo 12 months on from Auckland Anniversary floods

Auckland City Council and the government plan to buy 600 red-stickered Auckland homes at a cost of $2 billion.

Aucklanders are still counting the cost of the great Auckland deluge.

It’s been a year since the heavens opened and brought rain on a scale never seen before and in places like Māngere and West Auckland, people are still dealing with the after-affects.

Swanson local Te Waka Harris recalls the horror of the hill coming down on his house with his whānau inside.

“The rain had been consistently coming down the night before. The wahine and I were getting ready to go to the Elton John concert for date night. While she was taking a shower, all I could hear was a deep, rumbling, groaning sound coming from the hill directly behind my place.”

“So I just said to her, ‘We have to get out’. All we could hear was all the windows smashing as the hill started to slide over the back of my house.”

“The water was like a river running through the middle of the house.”

Numbers tell the true scale of the catastrophe

The numbers from last year’s weather event are almost unbelievable.

An estimated 300mm of rain was dumped on Auckland in four days, and more than 10,000 properties were affected region-wide, with almost 3,000 homes getting the dreaded red sticker, meaning those homes were either too damaged to live in or needed major work to be made safe for habitation.

Auckland Council and central government pledged $2 billion to buy out properties with the most damage; these were assigned category 3 status, which meant that the risk to human life was far too great and those houses would be bought out under the scheme.

The other categories for houses red-stickered are either ‘2p’, meaning that major work would need to be undertaken to make the houses safe, or ‘2c’, where the council would need to complete major infrastructure projects nearby.

Category system ‘confusing’

Harris’ whare on Rangimārie Rd in Swanson has been red-stickered but he says it’s unclear what category his house falls under. His property needs major repairs to fix the hill his home sits on; estimates are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s unclear who will foot the bill.

According to a report by Sedgwick Building Consultancy Services, the house needs major repairs, including “complete damage mitigation works, including the removal of moisture-compromised linings to enable the inspection and drying of the underlying timber frames.”

Harris says Swanson is such an amazing community.

‘It’s pōuri (sad). You try to get your family to areas like Swanson, places where they can thrive; it’s a real community here with really amazing neighbours. But we are lucky compared to some whānau.”

Cost more than financial

The situation has come at the expense of his whānau, with his relationship ending; he is stuck in limbo and calling on his whānau to help him in his time of need.

Immediately following the aftermath, the whānau got set up with a rental property in Henderson, spending more than a year in the cramped rental.

Harris says, “It was better than what some other whānau got.”

Harris is thankful to his insurance company and local and central government for the support his whānau has received. But, he says, the time it has taken to sort out issues has taken a toll.

“The state of the house is reflective of how things have happened during the last year.”