One year on, Cyclone Gabrielle’s fury is still evident from the scars she left behind on the West Auckland community of Muriwai.
More than 200 homes remain at varying degrees of recovery after several land slips prompted mass evacuations in February last year.
One landslide claimed the lives of two volunteer firefighters, Dave van Zwanenberg and Craig Stevens, while they were investigating a flooded property on Motutara Rd.
Resident Clinton Jones said that the deaths made the cyclone “catastrophic” for the Muriwai community, on top of everything else.
“Craig and his family used to live up the road, Dave and his family used to live next door.
“They would have done anything, in fact they did, that night to protect our community, and our community is eternally grateful.
“They were personal friends, they were fathers, they were husbands, and they were heroes.”
Jones, who has terminal cancer, reckons the stress from Gabrielle has kept him going.
“I’m a worrier, and I think with Muriwai, a busy job, my cancer, heart issues and the stress on my family, I think it’s the worrying that’s kept me going, and I’m the sort of person that needs something to worry about.”
His house has been categorised as 2A, meaning that the property needs further assessment, a “sort of limbo” where the council needs further information as he puts it.
Jones hopes for a change to Category 3 that would trigger a buyout.
“We could possibly be still waiting in 2026 for a final outcome… but I don’t know if I’ve got that time to wait.
“It’s adding extra stress to our family, and I want a quicker response or outcome.”
Couple Jackie and Geoff Kindred fought to stay following the cyclone.
“It’s an incredible community and that’s why we don’t want to leave.”
A recent re-categorisation from 3 to 2P means that they will be able to rebuild their property.
Remedial work includes the installation of a “deflection wall”, and the Kindred’s are hoping to be back in their home within nine months.
“Our property is not just a house, it’s a home. For our children to lose everything, the centre of their lives, was gonna be really devastating,” said Geoff.
It’s not the only bright new beginning, with Muriwai’s first ever bar opening in December.
Owner Bryce Steel said that it has been a “meeting place for everyone” after the cyclone.
“Everyone got pushed out of their homes for so long and they had nowhere to go and once we got to finally open it’s been a place where people can reconnect and become more like a community again.”