New Zealand launches global cyclone appeal

Gabrielle was New Zealand's biggest storm in a generation, affecting one third of its land mass.

Gabrielle was New Zealand's biggest storm in a generation, affecting one third of its land mass. Photo: Getty

New Zealand will stage an international fundraising appeal to support its Cyclone Gabrielle recovery, and a one-off lotto draw next month.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the appeal was modelled off a similar fundraising effort following the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, which raised more than $NZ94 million ($A86 million).

“This global appeal means we can harness local and international donations and channel them to the communities and projects that need them the most,” Mr Hipkins said.

The cyclone was NZ’s biggest storm in a generation, affecting one-third of its land mass and causing billions of dollars worth of damage.

The final bill may never be known, but includes huge rebuilds of road, rail and energy infrastructure, as well as housing, and lost earnings from vast swathes of agricultural land.

Mr Hipkins said he hoped Kiwis in the one million-strong diaspora – which includes hundreds of thousands in Australia – would consider giving.

“New Zealanders who have gone abroad and done well and want to get something back to the country, my message to them is ‘We would love your support’,” he said.

“Businesses that have a relationship with New Zealand and want to chip in and help out with the rebuild, again, we would love to hear from them as well.

“This is a charitable appeal. So we’re really targeting anyone who’s in a position to feel that they can contribute and do something that’s for the wider community.”

Gabrielle’s death toll remains at 11.

Earlier fears of a much larger toll are subsiding, with police revealing they had whittled down the number of missing people from almost 7000 to five.

Of the outstanding people, three are on active charges, including two who breached bail prior to the cyclone.

Superintendent Jeanette Park said she understood “there may be a reluctance for these individuals to engage, however our enquiries continue”.

A fourth missing person has not resided at their listed address for years and a fifth report was made on Monday, with police investigating.

Local search and rescue teams, supported by more than 100 police, have been working to resolve those reports.

In the hardest-hit regions of Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti, life is slowly creeping towards a pre-cyclone normality for most.

The number of households without power is at 2900, most in the Napier region, or about one per cent of its peak.

The cyclone caused the closure of 773 schools or early childhood centres, with all but 87 now re-opened.

Eight sections of the state highway network remain unnavigable, down from 21 sections totalling 400 kilometres.

“It’s clear that the road to recovery is going to be a long one,” Mr Hipkins said.

Many Kiwis also remain displaced from the cyclone.

More than 1800 homes in Auckland have been assessed as permanently or temporarily unsafe to live in, and more than 40,000 insurance claims have been made nationwide.

There are 80 people still sheltering in civil defence centres.

Mr Hipkins announced the national state of emergency would be extended into a third week, even as some storm-hit regions transition from emergency to a recovery phase.

“I’m committed and the government is committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with the affected regions on that journey,” he said.


Topics: New Zealand
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