The forestry industry is under fire after extensive damage was caused during the recent cyclone by slash in the floodwaters.
This has promoted calls by Civil Defence Minister Kieran McAnulty for the forestry industry to clean up its act.
It comes days after photos show large planks and other tree debris being pushed down the bloated Hikuwai River in Gisborne.
New photos of Waikanae Beach in Gisborne show slash covering large parts of the beach on Wednesday. It comes after around $300,000 was spent on cleaning it after Cyclone Hale.
It’s the same beach where a 12-year-old boy died in January when he was injured by a floating log.
Tolaga Bay farmer Bridget Parker told RNZ forestry slash has caused a huge amount of damage to her farm again.
“It’s enormous; there is silt all over the road. It’s so thick you can’t walk through it; there are logs as far as the eye can see,” Parker said.
“There is so many logs, all the fences are down; wherever you look it’s total carnage.”
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed on Tuesday the Government will look into forestry practices to prevent waste and debris from entering the waterways.
It’s sparked questions over whether the forestry waste is being properly dealt with and McAnulty said it needs to be looked into.
“I was pleased to see yesterday that the Prime Minister sent a very clear message that this is something the Government wants to sort out,” McAnulty told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.
“It seems every single time that there is a severe weather event in parts of the country, that slash does play a part and it can cause significant damage. It is something that we need to look at rationally and see what we can do to fix it.”
McAnulty told AM a solution needs to be found.
“The forestry perspective is slash being left on the ground is a legitimate part of their operation to help regenerate the ground for when they replant,” he explained.
“But obviously when there are severe weather events, we can’t have it that it keeps going into the rivers and causing damage and disrupting communities like that.
“So surely there’s a solution to that. It’s nice that the Prime Minister’s absolutely guaranteed that we’re going to look into it and sort it, and I back him in that, it has to be done.”
Whilst the weather looks like improving on Wednesday, McAnulty said the impact of the cyclone is still continuing.
“Whilst it’s encouraging that the weather forecasts indicate that things should be calming down today, the impact of the cyclone continues,” he said.
“There are vulnerable communities, some of which are still having to be evacuated and there are still rescue operations underway that had to be called off overnight, including the search for the missing fireman.”
There are reports that evacuation centres in Napier are at capacity, which has forced people to sleep in their cars.
McAnulty said NEMA is positive it’ll be able to access the region on Wednesday to provide much-needed support.
“If there is high demand for evacuation centres, now that we’ve got the national state of emergency we’re going to be in a much better position to be able to get resources to them,” he said.
“Like Wairoa for example, I understand that power has been restored, that’s going to make a massive difference and we’re going to be able to get the resources. I know they’re short of food and water and I know that’s a priority for us this morning.”
McAnulty said there isn’t an issue with resources, it’s just about figuring out where they’re needed as some places still have limited radio and cellular communication.
“We’re optimistic this morning that we’re going to be able to get a full gauge of where the need is across all of Hawke’s Bay and work with the local team on the ground down there to get what they need to where it’s needed.”
McAnulty told AM there have been multiple offers of international aid to help with the recovery and confirmed it’s currently “under consideration”.
“The feedback we’ve had from both fire and emergency and police is that they have the resources to be able to deal with it and so far the military has been able to fulfil all asks of them,” McAnulty said.
“That’s not a decision for me, but I’ll obviously be inquiring as to how we’re going and whether we do need to say yes to those offers.
“But that’s something the Prime Minister I imagine will be dealing with. He was the one who the offers were made for, I believe by Prime Minister Albanese and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.”
Watch the full interview with Kieran McAnulty above.
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