This year has seen a series of extreme weather events, unparalleled in New Zealand’s recent history. From Cape Reinga in the far north down to the Tararua Ranges, families and businesses across the country have suffered enormous loss and hardship.
While the severe weather hasn’t directly affected every part of the country, its impact has been felt by us all. Just like the Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes, Cyclone Gabrielle’s legacy will be with us for many years to come.
Our Government is committed to supporting New Zealanders as we recover and build back better, safer and smarter.
Here’s how we’re backing communities:
We’ve established the new Cyclone Gabrielle Appeal Fund, along with a special Lotto draw. From projects that help build resilience for the future, to fixing the facilities where people come together, like sports clubs, marae or community halls, the Fund will ensure local and international donations are channelled back into the communities and projects that need them the most.
If you want to learn more about it, or if you would like to make a donation, you can head to the website, here.
$25 million for interim business support - We’re providing $25 million in grants to help business to clean up and get back on their feet. Our priority is to get this initial emergency support out as fast as possible, and we know those who are on the ground in communities know best how to do this, so we’re working directly with local agencies to make this happen.
$25 million for primary sector recovery - We’re also providing $25 million to kick-start recovery efforts for farmers, growers, whenua Māori owners, and rural communities who were significantly affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. We’re getting this support out the door quickly to assist with urgent work like fencing and silt clearing, and there will be more to come.
$250 million for Waka Kotahi - To help Waka Kotahi and local councils to assess and fix roads – and to get our transport network up and running again - we’ve provided $250 million in immediate short-term funding.
Tax relief measures - We know that some businesses have been struggling to meet their tax obligations, so we’ve included a range of relief measures as well. Inland Revenue support including interest write-offs, tax concessions for donated trading stock and an extension of R&D Tax Incentive filing deadlines.
We know this rebuild is going to take a massive effort, and in the short-term, we’re likely to need more experts to support those we already have here. That's why we've introduced a new Recovery Visa. This will help us to bring in the additional specialist workers we need immediately, like insurance assessors, infrastructure engineers and technicians, heavy machinery operators and debris removal workers. Applications are now open, and will be prioritised by Immigration NZ - the fee will also be refunded for successful applicants, making it free for those who come here!
Communities are understandably concerned about the impact of forestry slash and land use in the damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, so we’ve launched an inquiry in to this. The two-month inquiry will investigate land-use practices and the impact of forestry slash on communities, livestock, buildings and the environment.
We’ve put in place a Cabinet Committee and Ministerial leads to help to coordinate the Central Government response and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, as well as the Minister for Cyclone Recovery, Grant Robertson. The Ministers for each affected region will work directly with local councils to ensure local voices are heard and acted on.
We’ve set up a new service to assist and support homeowners with natural disaster insurance claims. People whose homes have been damaged by a natural disaster will now be able to access this service if their insurance claims get stuck - meaning they get the support they need faster. We want to make sure that support is available for homeowners to avoid disputes, resolve issues and ensure claims are settled as quickly as possible – and case managers are already on the ground in Auckland!
We’ve launched a $15 million short term relief package to support Māori communities and to help accelerate their recovery. Iwi and hapori Māori were quick to provide essential support within their communities, and this package will support a range of efforts, such as staffing marae and purchasing equipment.
Our Temporary Accommodation Service has been activated to support those affected by the Cyclone. This service will support people who cannot return to their homes due to Cyclone Gabrielle.
We’ve announced multiple tranches of funding for Mayoral Relief Funds to support communities impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle and the January flooding. The most recent $1.7 million follows initial contributions of $1 million each to Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay regions’ relief funds, and $1.1 million to Auckland and $100,000 to Thames-Coromandel following the late-January flooding events.
We announced an $11.5 million Community Support Package to help the tens of thousands of people affected by the January floods, and to assist as regions prepared to respond to Cyclone Gabrielle. We also provided an initial $4 million to help farmers, growers, whenua Māori owners and rural communities mobilise and co-ordinate recovery efforts from Cyclone Gabrielle.
We made it easier for people in financial difficulty as a result of the January flooding to get temporary credit, meaning money could be quickly let from banks to their consumers to address damage, replace property, provide for loss of income, and meet their everyday living costs. We provided a $5 million package of emergency support to help businesses significantly affected by the Auckland flooding, and we unlocked an additional $700,000 in support for regions in the upper North.
These are just some of the supports that we have in place, and we know more is going to be required. As a Government we are committed to build on these, to ensure New Zealand recovers, and our communities return better. There is a long road ahead, but we will get through this.
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