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Transport Minister Michael Wood surveys the damage on State Highway 25A. Photo: SUPPLIED/WAKA KOTAHI

Unspent cyclone relief funding ‘outrageous’

Up to $9 million dollars of cyclone relief funding earmarked for Hawke’s Bay businesses has been unspent, and could be returned to the government, according to an update from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). 

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson said the extra money should be redirected to the Coromandel. 

“The Coromandel region continues to be impacted by weather events. This week’s flooding at Waihi Beach further highlights the challenges we face as we head into winter,” he said. 

“It is outrageous that money earmarked to support our devastated regions could be sent back to the capital when there is still such a desperate need for support in our communities.”

$30.4 million was provided to the Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce to distribute to affected businesses. MBIE’s update said $21.5 million had been allocated, but also noted the figures were not finalised, with some grants still to be processed. 

The government’s business support scheme has now closed.

“Many Coromandel businesses are still doing it tough as the result of cyclones, and the ongoing closure of State Highway 25A only makes their situation worse,” Mr Simpson said. 

“Instead of returning the nearly $9 million of unspent cyclone relief funding to Wellington, it should be reallocated to the Coromandel where it could be the difference between survival or bust for local businesses.

“Coromandel applications for cyclone support funding was massively oversubscribed and many businesses had their application declined. More often than not, businesses that were lucky enough to be granted funding received less than they had sought.”

Thames Coromandel District Council said the third and final allocation of the government’s Business Recovery Grants funding has now been disbursed. Approximately $8.1 million was distributed to 501 applicants across the Thames Coromandel district. 

“Our council is continuing to lobby the government for tailored support for cyclone-affected businesses and we’re working with business associations around the district to support businesses in each ward,” the council said.