Matata - state of emergency

Approximately 230 millimetres of rain fell in the Bay of Plenty District on 18 May 2005 causing significant flooding and landslips in Tauranga City, Otumoetai, and Matata.  

Scenes of damage from Matata

A state of local emergency was declared for the Edgecumbe-Tarawera Ward of the Whakatane District. One hundred and six buildings in the affected areas were declared insanitary under the Building Act 2004. Two buildings were demolished in Tauranga City.

On 24 May, the Department of Building and Housing contacted the Whakatane District Council and Tauranga District Council to offer assistance with processing urgent building consents, assessing flood-damaged properties, and providing guidance on the procedures set out in the Building Act 2004 that can be used in an emergency situation.

The Whakatane District Council accepted the Department's offer to help its workforce during the state of local emergency. Peter Sparrow and Ian Butler, Advisors from the Department's Building Industry Performance Group travelled north to support the assessment of dangerous or insanitary buildings and urgent building consent and inspection processes.

The May 2005 flooding is the second significant flooding in the Bay of Plenty area in two years. 'The amount of destruction and damage was extreme,' Peter Sparrow said. 'The northern end of Matata was like a moon landscape 'there were boulders the size of cars strewn everywhere.' Jeff Farrell from the Whakatane District Council said that although last year's floods were more widespread, this time the floods and landslides in Matata were more localised and concentrated, resulting in extreme destruction within a smaller area.


The Department's staff was involved in a range of activities including coordinating the clean-up of silt from affected buildings and properties in Matata with the New Zealand Fire Service and the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty Civil Defence and Emergency Management Office.

They worked with Council staff to undertake the assessment of septic and stormwater systems and liaised with drainlayers to clean these out. Finally, Peter and Ian undertook the assessment of buildings to ensure that these buildings were safe and sanitary.

Whakatane District Council has engaged the services of a geotechnical engineering firm to provide a report on the stability of the catchment area, the likelihood of a return event and the potential threat to buildings close to the streams affected. Once the report has been furnished to the Council, a decision will be made on the future of existing and proposed buildings identified as being in the at-risk area.

Assisting the Whakatane District Council in the use of new provisions in the Building Act 2004 relating to the processing of building consents during emergencies was an excellent opportunity for shared learning between the Council's local government staff and Departmental staff.