The Government today announced a $63 million funding boost for Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti, as the regions continue to recover from Cyclone Gabrielle.

It comes as the one-year anniversary of the cyclone approaches.

In a statement this afternoon, Emergency Management and Recovery Minister Mark Mitchell said the money will go towards the removal of sediment and debris left behind.

“This additional funding means these regions can continue with the job clearing sediment from high-priority areas,” he said.

“It also means work can continue to remove woody debris to prevent any further damage to infrastructure and local communities.”

As part of the new funding, $40 million will go to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council so it can continue to remove sediment and debris in the area.

It includes $3 million ring-fenced for the removal of debris in Wairoa.

“The Hawke’s Bay Silt Recovery Taskforce has done a tremendous job clearing more than 2.5 million tonnes of sediment and debris, as well as more than 140,000 tonnes of woody debris,” Mitchell said.

The Gisborne District Council will be allocated $23.6 million of the funding “to ensure urgent work will continue for the processing and removal of woody debris across the region”.

“This Government is fully committed to the recovery, and we are working with local authorities to identify how we can make it go faster,” Mitchell said.

Both Mitchell and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon are currently in the area to mark the devastating cyclone’s one-year anniversary.

“I just want to acknowledge that it’s been a very difficult and challenging year for the region,” Luxon told media.

“There are parts of the region that have recovered and bounced back, and you wouldn’t think there had been a cyclone in recent times.

“And there are other areas that are incredibly devastated and overwhelmed.”

He said the Government’s job is to “help people through that and get the region back on a good track.”

Recognition given to those on front line

On a sunny summer day in Hawke’s Bay, volunteers, first responders, and emergency workers gathered to be thanked for their tireless efforts in the ongoing recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

In a heartwarming ceremony, representatives from various organisations expressed gratitude to the everyday heroes who played a crucial role in the cyclone response. Native plants were distributed as a token of appreciation, symbolizing hope and strength for the future.

Among the celebrated individuals were Hilary Heath-Caldwell from Hawke’s Bay LandSAR, who emphasised the effectiveness of those who simply embraced the Kiwi spirit and helped their neighbours without uniforms.

The emotional toll of the cyclone was evident in the accounts of Jess Bennett and Charlie Beetham, Chief Pilot of the Search and Rescue service in Hawke’s Bay, who described the scenes as resembling a warzone during evacuations.

Adding a personal touch, Napier councillor Ronda Crystal reflected on the raw loss experienced by her family, expressing that there is still much work to be done.

The Government’s additional funding was warmly welcomed, especially by those directly affected. Prime Minister Luxon acknowledged the significant progress made by the Hawke’s Bay Silt Recovery Taskforce, but highlighted the extensive work still required to clear roads and areas affected by the cyclone.

Luxon was taken on a first-hand tour of Puketapu Bearsley Farms, once buried beneath metres of silt, with 12,500 truckloads still to be cleared.

Farms owner Paula Bearsley expressed gratitude for the funding, noting its importance in getting their land back in operation.

Additional reporting by Henry McMullan.