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Matatā residents to hear settlement‘s fate

The Whakatāne District Council wants to make a district plan change which would rezone the Awatarariki fanhead including Matatā as uninhabitable. Photo: RNZ / Brad White

Residents of a Bay of Plenty beach settlement at risk from deadly debris flows will this evening hear the latest offer to buy out their properties.

Matatā homeowners will meet in private with Whakatāne District Council bosses where they will be presented with a new joint acquisition package.

In May 2005 a torrential downpour washed boulders, logs and other debris down the flooded Awatarariki Stream, destroying 27 homes in Matatā and racking up a bill of $20 million.

Residents were allowed back into the area in 2006 because the council believed it could build a structure to contain debris in a similar event.

But six years later it gave up on that idea, saying the area was a "high loss of life risk zone" and managed retreat was the only viable option.

The council wants to make a district plan change which would rezone the Awatarariki fanhead including Matatā as uninhabitable and in 2017 an indicative offer of $15 million for 34 properties - although it says it could not afford to pay for them alone.

It is understood tonight a joint offer will be made with monies from the district and regional councils and the government.

Matatā resident Rachel Walley says she and her family did not want to leave.

"I'm a bit worried that the offers they are going to make are going to be conditional that everybody take them which means the people who need to move will be unable to move unless we all decide to take it so it's a sort of divide and conquer thing."

Rachel says while some of her neighbours were fed up with the situation and decided to accept an offer she would have to be carried out.

"We gave up everything to come here so there's nowhere else we're going to be so, we're not leaving.

"My neighbour and my mum say they are going to go naked and oil themselves up and see who's going to touch them so yeah there will be civil disobedience if that's what you want to call it."

The Whakatāne District Council has confirmed the meeting is being held tonight, but would not comment before talking to residents.

-RNZ/Robin Martin.

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