Auckland flooding: Residents of ‘ghost town’-like street demand managed retreat

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Some West Auckland residents who own yellow-stickered properties are refusing to return even if their homes are fixed.

There are 14 yellow-stickered houses on Camphora Place in Ranui and residents say the street, once full of friendly neighbours is now a “ghost town”.

Locals told First Up a managed retreat or a voluntary buy-out is the only way forward.


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Razib Hussain said he had not had any time off in seven years.

He worked two jobs to save up for his first property.

In 2019, he moved into to his dream home on Camphora Place.

He said all he wanted was to give his 4-year-old son a place to call his own.


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But owning the property had been nothing short of a nightmare, he said.

His home was flooded and yellow-stickered twice in two years.

Both times a section of Momutu Stream – that runs behind his property – broke its banks.

The Hussein family's house has been flooded and yellow-stickered twice in two years. Photo / RNZ
The Hussein family’s house has been flooded and yellow-stickered twice in two years. Photo / RNZ

In the August 2021 deluge, water entered his home at 1am while the family were asleep.

And during this year’s floods, Hussain said he was lucky to be alive because emergency services could not get to him.

“They said that we can’t come because the current is so strong that we cannot really come and rescue you try and find a higher ground.

“So I was stuck there for 45 minutes and I saw the water level keep rising and rising.”

Eventually he swam to the street to save his life.

He said before he bought the property council assured him that flooding was a one-in-100 year risk.

Camphora Place residents Razib Hussain (centre) with his wife Nusrat Jahan and son Rifayat. Photo / RNZ
Camphora Place residents Razib Hussain (centre) with his wife Nusrat Jahan and son Rifayat. Photo / RNZ

“I’ve asked them specifically that can I build into this property and they have said ‘yes, you can build, but you might, want to put the property at a height’,” he said.


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“But truth be told council should never have allowed any property to be built here, especially now.”

Tom Mansell is the head of Sustainable Outcomes at Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters.

He said it might be time to get retire the term “one-in-a-100 year flood risk”.

“I think it is a term that confuses a lot of people and there are different ways to explain it.”

Mansell said not all houses built near waterways were at risk.

There were 50,000 houses in Auckland on the flood plain and another 55,000 were located on overland flow paths, he said.


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“Not all of those are going to flood, but that shows the magnitude of, you know, the potential issue we have.”

Just down the road, Mark Griffin’s home was also yellow-stickered.

“First time it was flooded was 18 months ago. I had literally the week before the flood hung the last pictures on the wall.

“And you know, we were settled. And then hello, happens again.”

Griffin and his wife are living in a campervan in the driveway while their two teenage children are staying with friends and family.

“The insurance company is paying for the caravan as part of the accommodation.


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“The reason we chose the caravan is because it’s $130 a week compared to if we went to a motel. That’s like $150 a day.”

And just like the Hussains and other displaced families the Griffins were still paying a mortgage and council rates for a house they did not live in.

He believed it was no longer safe to stay at his Camphora Place property.

“It’s not a case of if it [flooding] happens again, it’s a case of when it happens again, and it will happen again.

“We don’t really want to come back,” he said.

Mansell agreed a managed retreat may be the only viable solution.


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“A managed retreat in some of the risky areas is inevitable, and what that looks like [and] where we don’t know yet.

“It just doesn’t make sense rebuilding in a very vulnerable place.”

Both Griffin and Hussain said the section of Momutu Stream that ran behind their properties was not regularly maintained and may have contributed to the flooding.

But Mansell said the infrastructure would have never coped with record-breaking rainfalls.

The stretch of Momutu Stream that ran behind Camphora Place was maintained on an “as requested” basis and was last cleared in January 2022, he said.

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