Whangārei mayor Vince Cocurullo said on Tuesday that the region could’ve had more help from central government to recover.
He pointed to State Highway 1, which is still closed at Brynderwyn Hills south of Whangārei, creating long detours for freight and causing damage on local roads used for light-vehicle detours.
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Davis has been appointed Northland Cyclone Recovery Minister and said his inclusion on the Cyclone Response Cabinet Committee recognises Northland’s needs.
“We need to remember we are still in the early days of this response… The Government is well aware that Northland has also been seriously affected,” the Te Tai Tokerau MP said.
“In the past week I’ve been to many places including Pangaru, Pāwarenga, Onerahi, Whangārei, Waipū and Te Kau …
“Since the cyclone hit I have been working closely with my fellow Northland ministers Willow-Jean Prime and Emily Henderson to make sure the needs of our region are heard clearly in Wellington.
“In this new role I will continue to do that. It will mean pulling together various community groups and councils and finding a pathway forward, as well as thoughts on adaption and resilience to climate change.”
Davis said central government funding of $500,000 to Northland mayoral relief funds will be the beginning of support.
But he acknowledged there was a need to make Northland’s infrastructure more resilient to storms and it would not be easy.
“It will require the right investment, in the right place. This is a complicated issue and the thoughts of those in the region are essential to any decision-making.”
For Cocurullo, resilience at the Brynderwyns would involve a significant investment, making it likely to be an election issue.
Options include a western bypass of the route or tunnels, he said.
“There are options out there, it depends on how important they [ministers] believe it is for Northland.”
The highway could be open to north-bound freight by next week but will be another four weeks until it is open completely, Cocurullo said.
A bypass of the Brynderwyn Hills has been considered as part of a four-lane upgrade to the highway south of Whangārei, first announced by the National-led Government in 2017.