Rebuilding continues one-year on from Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle

// Health and Safety

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle's severe impact on extensive areas of the North Island, after grappling with the aftermath of flooding and Cyclone Hale.


Impacted farmers and rural communities continue to show resilience in the rebuild and while there’s a long road to recovery, progress is being made.

Sheep and beef farmer and B+LNZ farmer Director Patrick Crawshaw’s patch in the Hawke’s Bay was heavily impacted. "One year on and there is still visible scarring and destruction. While everyone is at a different stage of the rebuild, for our farm, the road to recovery is clearer and we’re making some progress.”

Through $230,000 funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ North Island Weather Events Fund, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has been delivering a project to support those impacted.

The initiative is specifically designed to support the recovery of rural communities and primary industries affected by the North Island weather events, with a strategic focus on ten community hubs. 

As part of this project, B+LNZ works closely with these communities to establish a community hub within each, comprising groups of ten to twenty farm businesses. This strategic approach aims to pinpoint areas where access to expert advice and support services is most needed and provide the required assistance.

In each hub, a lead farmer or industry person has taken on the responsibility of coordinating support efforts and facilitating a needs analysis of on-farm management.

Each group session within the community hub focuses on urgent farm business and management decisions, leveraging expert advice, extension tools, and resources.

Although the majority of these hubs are concentrated in the upper Eastern North Island region, there is also a hub in Wairarapa and Northland. 

In the unique context of whenua Māori communities, the project takes the form of a wānanga, ensuring culturally sensitive and specific support in alignment with the community's needs.

“The project aims to support informed decision-making and option analysis, addressing both short and long term challenges,” says Jason Griffin, B+LNZ’s Lead Extension Manager – North Island.

The Far North was first to be impacted by the extreme weather in 2023 and parts of Northland are still repairing infrastructure, especially roads. B+LNZ’s Extension Manager – Northern North Island Katrina Stead says while most of the tidy up has been done across the region, the scars are still visible through the leftover slips and the continuing restoration of riparian areas wiped out by flooding. 

“The ongoing repair to our main roads continue to cause delays and extra costs to our farmers especially for transporting stock. 

“Part of the regional recovery plan being carried out by Civil Defence Northland include business continuity planning workshops. B+LNZ have been involved in the design of these to ensure farmers can be prepared for future adverse events and safeguard their business,” says Stead.

B+LNZ’s Mātanga Whenua Māori Advisor, Pania King is leading B+LNZ’s work in the heavily impacted Tairāwhiti area. 

“Here in Tairāwhiti we’re taking a long-term approach. We’re working with Federated Farmers to implement a comprehensive recovery plan for cyclone-impacted farmers. The focus continues to be on repairing and reinforcing waterway fencing and boundary fences, critical for stock management and the safety of rural communities that involves,” she says.

Learn more about B+LNZ’s work with Federated Farmers in Tairāwhiti.

B+LNZ continues to be actively involved in initiatives aimed at providing assistance to farmers, fostering community resilience, and collaborating with other industry organisations to ensure a coordinated approach to recovery.

More ‘Checking-in’ events announced

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Checking-in events are focused on people in rural communities impacted by last year’s adverse weather events.

Several new Checking-in events have been announced in the North Island. Check out events near you on the Checking-in website