1. Introduction

1.1 In February 2023, Te Matau a Māui Hawke’s Bay faced devastation and loss from Cyclone Gabrielle – one of the largest natural disasters in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. Across the region, communities have endured significant impact to their lives, livelihoods, whānau, homes, farms, orchards, vineyards and neighbourhoods.

1.2 On 1 June 2023 initial risk categories were identified that continue to be refined. Further information about that process is available at https://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/land-categorisation-hb/. As Hawke’s Bay progresses its recovery, the question of how councils will process building consents in categorised areas has come into focus.


2. Purpose of this Guidance Document

2.1 The purpose of this Guidance Document is to clearly outline how Hastings District, Napier City and Central Hawke’s Bay District Councils (councils) will approach residential building consenting under the Building Act 2004 (the Act) across the region during Hawke’s Bay’s recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

2.2 This Guidance Document considers the applicability of sections 71-74 of the Act, which relate to natural hazards. It is designed to provide as much certainty as possible, to allow communities to make decisions that have future and inter-generational safety at their heart. We also don’t want our communities spending money on building consent applications that may be unlikely to ever be granted due to the risk of natural hazards.

2.3 This is uncharted territory for how Aotearoa New Zealand deals with natural disasters of this scale and while we don’t yet have all the answers, we are committed to sharing what we do know, when we know.


3. Important things to note

3.1 The councils will process all applications for building consents in accordance with the Act, on their individual merits.

3.2 This Guidance Document should be read alongside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Guidance on sections 71 to 74 of the Act, which is published on the MBIE website.

3.3 This Guidance Document applies only to residential buildings or sleeping accommodation. Getting people back into their homes where possible is the priority right now and the councils will communicate their approach to consenting commercial buildings in due course.

3.4 Using the categories of land that Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has identified, building consent applications in relation to:

a. Category 1 land will almost invariably be processed in accordance with s 71(2)(a) of the Act; and

b. Category 2C, 2C*, 2P and 3 land will almost invariably be processed in accordance with s 72 of the Act.

3.5 Building consent processing in relation Category 2C, 2C* and 2P land is likely to exceed the statutory timeframe provided in the Act and we ask for your understanding and patience as we try to get these difficult decisions right.

3.6 Category 2A, where significant further assessment is required, falls outside the Guidance Document. Once further assessment and re-categorisation of properties in this category has occurred, they will be considered in accordance with their new categorisation.

3.7 For all categories where minor building work is applied for, the Council will process those applications in accordance with sections 48 and 49 of the Act and the natural hazards provision in the Act (ss 71-74) do not apply.

3.8 Finally, this Guidance Document has been created on the basis of relevant information available to the councils at today’s date. Should more comprehensive data becomes available from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the Guidance Document will, to the extent necessary, be promptly updated.


Approach to Building Consenting by Category


 Those of you who recently received a letter from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council which stated that the regional council is going to be allocating Heretaunga Plains groundwater based on ‘Actual and Reasonable’ use may be wondering what that is, and why the council is applying it to these consent applications? 

In a nutshell, ‘Actual and Reasonable’ use is a maximum annual volume that will be specified on the water permit that the regional council is currently processing, and that number: 

 The exact definition is shown on the last page of this document. 

So what does that mean in practice? 

Irrigators that don’t have accurate water meter data from 2010-2020 will likely be allocated the smallest volume of water, of either what their expiring consent allowed, or the crop water demand calculated by IRRICALC. 

Growers whose maximum annual water use between May 2010 and 2020 is less than the crop water demand calculated by IRRICALC, would likely be allocated the maximum annual volume taken. 

Some growers may not be allocated the same volume of water they have been previously. Below are some examples of what your numbers could look like,  and what that could mean for the volume of water you are allocated in your new water permit: 

Why is this happening now? 

Because of the TANK (Tuetaekuri, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamu) Catchment Plan Change was notified in May 2020. It classifies the Heretaunga Plains aquifer as over-allocated (in terms of water quantity), and under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, action must be taken to get it back to a fully or under-allocated state. This means that the volume of water allocated from it must be reduced, and applying a definition of ‘Actual and Reasonable’ is how it is proposed to achieve this. 

Is the TANK Plan under appeal? 

Yes it is, which means the definition of ‘Actual and Reasonable’ may change slightly but, from the date of notification (May 2020), the plan changes has some legal effect, which means the council must take it into account when processing applications. 

Actual and Reasonable in relation to applications to take and use water means: 

a) no more than the quantity specified on the permit due for renewal or any lesser amount applied for; and the least of either: 

b) the maximum annual amount as measured by accurate water meter data in the ten years preceding 2 May 2020 if accurate water meter data is available. (If insufficient or no accurate data is available either clause a) or c) will apply) 


c) for irrigation takes, the quantity required to meet the modelled crop water demand for the irrigated area with an efficiency of application of no less than 80% as specified by the IRRICALC water demand model (if it is available for the crop and otherwise with an equivalent method), and to a 95% reliability of supply where the irrigated area is: 

(i) no more than in the permit due for renewal, or any lesser amount applied for, and in the case of Heretaunga Plains Groundwater Quantity Area, is not more than the amount irrigated in the ten years preceding 2 May 2020 and 

(ii) evidence is supplied to demonstrate that the area has, and can continue to be, irrigated and the permit is substantially given effect to in applying the IRRICALC model, the Council will take into account any water meter data that is applicable. 

In applying the IRRICALC model, the Council will take into account any water meter data that is applicable. 

The IRRICALC model can be accessed here: Irrigation Requirements (mycatchment.info) 


These guidelines have been prepared to assist Hawke’s Bay horticultural growers with silt deposits on their properties, as a result of recent Cyclone Gabrielle flooding.

They have been put together as a guide to help property owners safely remove silt from their land.

These guidelines have been prepared in accordance with the Ministry for Environment Contaminated Land Management Guidelines, No. 5 (CLMG No. 5), Site Investigation and Analysis of Soils (MfE, 2021) and the Resource Management (National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health) Regulations 2011 (NESCS).


Silt Removal

A few key considerations need to be followed when removing silt from market gardens, orchards and agricultural farmland.

Figure 1. Do not remove silt from areas surrounding chemical storage sheds and filling stations, or sheep yards, particularly those with known historic sheep dips. 


Health & Safety

Ensure that the following are followed during the removal of silt:


Unexpected Discovery of Contamination

Should unexpected contamination be encountered during removal, immediately stop, and assess the potential hazards. Contamination may present as: 

Should asbestos be observed or suspected during excavation, all work shall cease and Guidelines for the Management and Removal of Asbestos (revised 1999) for the Department of Labour, and the Health & Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations (1998) will need to be followed. Any asbestos works (assessment, delineation, removal, and verification) would need to be undertaken by a specialist asbestos contractor and EAM, who are suitably qualified environmental practitioners, to assess asbestos contamination.

A first response protocol for unexpected contamination is as follows:

  1. Stop work immediately. Assess the potential immediate hazards. If the discovery is assessed as presenting an imminent hazard or danger, notify emergency services by dialling 111. If unsafe, move away, and secure the area.
  2. Contact EAM, Jason Strong 027 4405990.
  3. Work will not resume or commence until an environmental professional has provided clearance. 

EAM are suitably qualified environmental practitioners in the field of contaminated sites. Should you require assistance with sampling of your property, please contact us on 027 4735590, or email info@eam.co.nz. 


Reference Documentation

MfE 2012 Users’ Guide National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health. Ministry for the Environment. 

MfE 2021 Contaminated Land Management Guidelines No.5; Site Investigation and Analysis of Soil. Ministry for the Environment. 

The Horticultural Action Group (HAG) has been contacted by a number of larger vegetable growers who are interested in entering into short term leases (e.g. 1-3 years) of land impacted by flooding during Cyclone Gabrielle, on which they could grow crops (e.g. squash, onions etc). This would help landowners realise some income off their land, while they wait to be able to replant orchards, or think further about what they want to do. Productively using the land will also be beneficial for soil health.

If a block hasn’t yet been cleared, potentially The Hawke’s Bay Sediment and Debris Recovery Fund (Commercial Entities) can be used to help fund land clearance. This fund is administered by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and remains open for applications until the end of August (2023). Further information is available, and applications can be made online here: Silt and debris | Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (hbrc.govt.nz)

The HAG is aware that some blocks have been cleared but stumps not properly removed, which does not make it a good option for cropping. Please make sure that if your block is being cleared, that it is done properly, with no trees stumps etc left in the ground. Vegetable growers won’t risk putting expensive machinery into blocks where there is a high chance of it being damaged.

Having access to water for irrigation is also important. Initial discussions HAG have had with the Consents Team at the Regional Council indicate that some changes to existing consents may be able to be made to allow short term cropping to occur (i.e. increases in rate of up to 5L/s that may be required to allow crops to be effectively irrigated). This is also the case for the many water permit applications that remain on hold with the regional council – interim consents could be issued to enable short term cropping to occur. Whether or not changes will be allowed will depend primarily on the location of a point of take – the regional council indicated that changes will likely be easier for takes that are not located on the Heretaunga Plains. Areas that may have issues with well interference such as Puketapu may require more assessment to ensure changes do not impact on other groundwater users.

If the idea of a short-term lease arrangement interests you, please make direct contact with any of the people below who are looking for land, and with whom you can discuss your particular situation in more detail.

If you have questions about your water permit, and possible changes you might need to make to it to enable a short-term leasing scenario to work, please contact Charlotte Drury on 027 3225595, or Charlotte.Drury@hortnz.co.nz

The following guidance has been drafted to assist Hawke’s Bay horticultural growers clearing silt from their properties, resulting from Cyclone Gabrielle.

This advice has been drafted to help growers appropriately manage anything that they accidentally discover as they are removing silt from their land. The flooding dramatically altered the landscape, and amongst other things, washed bones out of urupa/burial sites, and unearthed other previously buried taonga/treasures. This means you could come across something unexpected as you are removing silt.

To help reduce the chances of this happening, when you are removing silt from orchards and agricultural land, try to avoid removing existing underlying soil (i.e., digging below ground level) – this will help reduce the risk of any accidental discoveries.

If you do encounter something unexpected during silt removal, immediately stop and do the following:


This guidance about accidental discoveries should be read in conjunction with the Guidelines for the removal of silt from Cyclone Gabrielle affected properties prepared by EAM NZ Ltd for Horticulture New Zealand.

It is high-level guidance intended to help you manage your silt removal activity appropriately. For specific advice on particular fact scenarios, please contact your own advisors, or Charlotte Drury of HortNZ (in the first instance) on 027 3225595 or Charlotte.Drury@hortnz.co.nz.


The Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association considers the health and safety of our members, employees, and sponsor’s to be our highest priority.

After careful consideration, and in light of the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) developments, we have cancelled the 2020 Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower of the Year. Rescheduling the event will enable us to provide the experience that our members, sponsor’s, and employees expect and deserve in a safe environment.

We remain excited to host you next year and will get back to you with more information on specific dates in the coming weeks.

We look forward to hosting you in 2021. Until then, stay safe and healthy.

Apples and pears have been a New Zealand treasure since the first trees were planted in Kerikeri by missionary Samuel Marsden in 1819. Two centuries later, the top fruit industry is a significant earner for the nation’s economy, on track to achieve its goal of $1 billion in export earnings by 2022.

Last week, NZ Apples and Pears Inc -the industry body that represents the country’s top fruit industry- celebrated the 200 year milestone with a gathering at Parliament hosted by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. O’Connor says the apples and pears industry is a significant contributor to New Zealand’s export revenue, its regional economy and employment.

“Occasions like this are a great opportunity to celebrate how fast the industry is growing and plan for future success. Our apple and pear exports are in high demand – the volume of production is increasing and higher prices are being achieved. The industry’s exports increased in value from $370 million in 2012 to $870 million in 2019, which reflects an increase in both the volume and value of exports, driven by changes in variety mix and a shift in market focus from Europe to Asia. I would like to acknowledge New Zealand Apples and Pears and all industry for the commitment and hard work they have put into growing this sector.”

NZ Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard said he was delighted that Ministers, MPs, officials, industry leaders past and present and industry colleagues could join the team to celebrate the bicentenary. “Introducing apples and pears into New Zealand in 1819, Samuel Marsden couldn’t have imagined that he was laying the foundation for what would become the world’s most competitive apple industry, recognised for leading edge varietal development, and on orchard and post-harvest innovation.”

“The industry is proud of what it has achieved and its contribution to the country’s health, wealth and well-being. It is one of the most successful apple and pear industries in the world, sustainably producing safe and quality fruit that consumers in over 80 countries around the world enjoy and can rely on.”

As reported on voxy.co.nz¸ provincial New Zealand has benefited hugely from the growth in the top fruit industry, employing around 3,500 permanent staff and 15,000 seasonal staff and responsible for bringing in between $2.6b and $4.3b in indirect economic benefit to the provinces.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association is offering an exciting opportunity for businesses to align themselves with a dynamic and progressive industry, as well as the opportunity to engage directing with emerging talent, industry leaders and stakeholders.

The Association organises three annual events – Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower of the Year, Industry Awards Night and the renowned Fishing Competition. These events provide a platform from which sponsors can gain exposure to the region’s extensive horticulture community.

For the first time sponsors will have the opportunity to support all three events inclusive of one sponsorship package.  Four partnership tiers are available, ranging from $500 to $8,000+ and provide considerable partnership benefits.  All events are well-attended and supported by local media coverage.

In 2019, the Association reviewed its strategic framework.  An industry survey was undertaken as well as review of the marketing and communications strategy, membership and sponsorship framework. In January, the new branding was rolled out and social media platforms established.

Ben James, President of the Hawke’s Bay FruitGrowers’ Association, said the sponsors provide more than financial support to the Association. “Our partners help raise awareness of what we do – to protect, foster and promote horticulture in Hawkes Bay. We believe in creating meaningful relationships – our sponsors are part of an extraordinary team of local businesses and individuals who are passionate about horticulture”.

If your business is keen to  find out more, please contact:

Dianne Vesty, Executive Officer
027 2339900