May 29, 2023

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown announces details of $100k review into city’s emergency flooding response

Water continues to rise in Onehunga as clean-up begins.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has announced the terms of reference of the $100,000 review into the city’s immediate response to the devastating flooding just over a week ago.

Brown said on Monday there would be a full investigation into the flood response.

On Sunday, the Mayor announced that former Police Commissioner Mike Bush would lead the review.

Bush previously led the response to the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack and was the strategic operations lead for the Government’s COVID-19 response.

The purpose of the review is to:

  • report on the performance of the immediate official emergency response to the Auckland weather event of January 27-28
  • identify any actions that need to be implemented immediately to ensure better preparation for the next event.

According to the Mayor’s office, the scope of the review includes actions and decisions by Brown and his office, as well as other local and national agencies. Brown’s office said it will fully cooperate with the review and expects other agencies to do the same.

Bush will be joined in the four-strong review team by:

  • Debbie Francis, former chief people officer at the New Zealand Defence Force and partner at PwC New Zealand, and independent investigator into workplace culture at the New Zealand Parliament
  • Gary Knowles, former New Zealand director of Civil Defence and deputy chief executive of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). He also led the Pike River Mine disaster response for the New Zealand Police
  • Michael Paki, former Senior Sergeant, senior investigator, head of iwi and community relations at Counties Manukau New Zealand Police.

The initial budget for the review is $100,000, which is to be paid out of the Mayor’s office budget, but additional funding may be negotiated if needed.

In his announcement of this review, Brown acknowledged his immediate response to the flooding wasn’t up to standard.

“As I said on Friday, I dropped the ball the night of 27 January, especially with my communication, and I am sorry,” Brown said in a statement.

“All our decisions and actions must be reviewed thoroughly, and clear and direct recommendations made so that we all do better for Aucklanders next time.

“Time is of the essence – with climate change, we do not know when how soon the next severe weather event or other Civil Defence emergency might occur.”

Councillor Sharon Stewart, chair of Auckland Council’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee, said she and her committee welcomed the immediate review.

“Everyone needs to do better, and the committee and I are looking forward to these independent insights from Mr Bush and his team into how we can all do better,” she said.

Brown said the four-strong review team should have its work made available to other reviewers, policymakers, and the public by no later than March 6.

The Mayor added he anticipates there will be further reviews, including those commissioned by the central government.

Would you like to receive notifications on latest updates? No Yes