Focusing on our support in Tairāwhiti

29 June 2023

Fortnightly update 9: New Zealand Disaster Fund

We’ve now committed $12 million in funding to help affected communities. Recent grants have supported children’s wellbeing, helped ensure food security, and provided financial support for farming families. 
New Zealand Red Cross disaster response specialists also helped with the emergency response in Tairāwhiti last week after a local state of emergency was declared following days of heavy rain. Read more below.  
Our cyclone response and recovery work in Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay was featured on the TVNZ show 'Fair Go' earlier this week.

Watch us on Fair Go 

Helping Barnardos take care of tamariki 

Barnardos has been working hard to support tamariki and their families since the cyclone, and have received a big boost from the New Zealand Disaster Fund to keep this important work going.  

In Tairāwhiti, a $30,000 grant has helped them distribute survival kits, food vouchers and wellbeing backpacks, and will help launch their new ‘Beds and Teds’ programme. Another grant of $65,918 will support their 0800 What’s Up helpline which provides free counselling for 5-19 year olds in all affected regions.  

Chris Semmens, Barnardos Service Manager for Tairāwhiti, said his team began responding almost immediately after the Cyclone swept through the region. 

“At the time, we had no access to power or internet, and no one really knew what was going on. So we started doing backpacks full of essential equipment for whanau to use. These included torches, radios, basic first aid kits and hygiene products, to help people get by in those initial weeks.”  

Following the early response, Chris and his team noticed that the emergency response was focused on adults and families, when children had lost a lot too. So they came up with the ‘Bed and Teds’ programme, to make sure that children who had lost so much, at least had their own beds and teddies.  

“They lost their teddy bears, beds, safety blankets, comfort toys. They’ve been living in temporary accommodation and in somebody else's bed. That’s why we wanted to get funding to buy children their own beds.” 

Chris also spoke of the effect Cyclone Gabrielle and the other severe weather events was having on people’s wellbeing, and how important mental health support is in the aftermath of a disaster.  

“Here in Tairāwhiti, it’s been four months since the cyclone, and whānau that have been affected by the events are only now beginning to ask for support and counselling for their family and their children.” 

Rescuing food and feeding families 

KiwiHarvest’s mission is to collect good food before it goes to waste and get it to those who need it. KiwiHarvest CEO, Angela Calver says since Cyclone Gabrielle and the other severe weather events, they’ve been helping up to 10 charities supply food for affected families.  

To support this initiative, KiwiHarvest received a $50,000 from the New Zealand Disaster Fund. 

“The recent and ongoing weather events continue to impact people in many of the communities we supply food to. The feedback we get from our recipient charities is our deliveries make a significant difference to the quality and quantity of food they can give to those in need.” 

Salt Trust is one of the charities that has been supplying food from KiwiHarvest to their community. “Our ability to support our community would be severely compromised without KiwiHarvest,” a spokesperson said.   

Angela says in these unprecedented times, Red Cross, KiwiHarvest and grass roots charities like Salt Trust are all working together to help feed those in need. “It is a such a wonderful example of Kiwi’s finding ingenious ways to get the job done.”  

Funds for farmers in Tairāwhiti  

“We are so excited,” says Jen Mildenhall of the $50,000 grant made from the New Zealand Disaster Fund to Gisborne Tairāwhiti Farming Recovery Fund.  

As an accountant and sheep and beef farmer from Te Karaka, Jen knows first-hand how difficult things have been for farmers and growers affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. Road access was cut off for many farmers after the cyclone, and Jen says the extended isolation they faced was extremely challenging. They had to grapple with complex decisions around things like transport logistics, animal welfare, and stock feed reserves. “We’re still in the hurt stage,” Jen said of her farming community, which was hit hard again with heavy rain and flooding this past week.  

Jen and her fellow board members set up the Gisborne Tairāwhiti Farming Recovery Fund after the cyclone. They used a combination of needs assessment data from the Ministry of Primary Industries and Trust Tairāwhiti, and their own farming network connections to identify 50 farmers who are most in need. The Farming Recovery Fund is now approaching these farmers directly to offer $2,000 financial support grants.  

Farmers are facing immense recovery costs. These contributions will go a little way towards easing the costs of repair and recovery, but Jen sees a value that goes beyond the financial. Three years ago, her family experienced deep personal tragedy, and a friend set up a fundraising page for them. “It wasn’t about the monetary amount... it was the love and the support that came from the people donating. I thought wow, these amazing people have just done this for us. The strength that I got from that helped me so much.” Jen hopes the farmers they’re reaching will feel a similar sense of connection and comfort in the knowledge that people care about them. 

Responding to recent flooding and slips in Tairāwhiti 

Alongside our ongoing Disaster Fund work, we continue to be there for communities when disasters happen.  

When a local state of emergency was declared yet again in Tairāwhiti after days of heavy rain, two of our Auckland-based Disaster Welfare and Support Team members, Stuart and Lilian, flew down to Gisborne to join our Regional Project Manager Phil on the ground to support the community.   

Lilian and Stuart spent the weekend helping in the Civil Defence Centre, providing psychosocial first aid and assisting whanau at the CDC with food and clothing and linking people with other emergency management agencies. The team also delivered emergency items to rural Te Karaka, where people had been evacuated from their homes after more flooding.   

After Cyclone Gabrielle, heavy rain warnings seem scarier than they were a year ago. Our thoughts are with the people of Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay as they recover from another severe weather event. 

Our response to this latest emergency was not funded by the New Zealand Disaster Fund but through our regular disaster response programme. 

By the numbers   

The New Zealand Disaster Fund is being allocated across three programmes of work:  

  1. The Response and Recovery Programme supported our immediate emergency response on the ground and is now helping communities recover by providing goods, services, and people. At this stage, approximately $10 million has been budgeted for this programme.   
  2. The Partnership Grants Programme provides grants to community organisations supporting community response and recovery. At this stage, approximately $11 million has been budgeted for this programme.  
  3. The Investment programme is focused on helping communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from future emergencies and disasters.  At this stage, approximately $5 million has been budgeted for this programme.   

The amounts budgeted for each programme may go up or down as needs change.  

Total committed funds across all programmes: $12 million  

Total donations: $26.5 million  

Note: Figures provided are as accurate as possible as at 27 June given the rapid nature of grant allocation. Figures may change slightly in our annual reporting as we complete our audit process.  

Partnership Grants Programme  

This programme distributes grants to community organisations that are helping those affected. Supporting these organisations helps make sure response and recovery work is community-led and meets local needs.  

Total approximate spent or committed: $10.7 million   

Total Community Support Grants approved: 97 grants   

Total Community Enable Grants approved: 53 grants   

Total grant applications received: 283  

Approximate programme budget: $11 million  

We are continuing assessments of existing grant applications. Entities supported recently include:  

  • Aotearoa Africa Foundation – home clean up, wellbeing checks and food support – $30,000 
  • Auckland Central Māori Wardens Incorporated Charitable Trust Board – food parcels, household care packs, hygiene kits, temporary water supply – $50,000
  • Gisborne Tairāwhiti Farming Recovery Fund (Matai Medical Institute) – easing repair and recovery costs for farmers – $50,000  
  • Hikurangi Enterprises – cost of temporary accommodation – $6,000 
  • HNK Trust – tool library for the Omahu, Moteo and Waiohiki areas – $50,000 
  • Kidnnections Charitable Trust – providing a safe and neutral space for kids to meet their whānau – $5,000 
  • KD Partnership – continuing clean-up work in smaller areas – $25,000 
  • Meat the Need – food supply – $50,000 
  • Moteo Marae – restoring marae – $100,000 
  • MPHS Community Trust – support for community in temporary housing and 120 community members who were cared for at the community-led emergency hub – $50,000 
  • Omakere School – replacing lost equipment in play areas – $29,000 
  • ONE Voice Community Services Trust – temporary accommodation caravan and vouchers for clothing, linen and kitchenware – $47,600 
  • ONE Voice Community Services Trust – clean-up program and community mental health support – $123,500
  • Pakowhai Community Cyclone Recovery Committee – clean-up of homes with limited insurance coverage – $100,000 
  • Paw Justice Charitable Trust – pet food for affected families – $5,000 
  • Piha Surf Life Saving Club Incorporated – generator – $5,177 
  • Puketawai Marae – replacing damaged equipment and recovery supplies for marae – $98,930  
  • Rotorua Whakaora – resume transporting food to organisations that are feeding 3,000-4,000 people every week – $40,000 
  • Te Roopu Whakamana Charitable Trust – community transport and mental wellbeing – $65,000 
  • TPB Services Ltd – machine repair to continue clean-up – $10,000 
  • Wairoa Pony Club Inc – community connectedness – $1,200 
  • Wharariki (Flax) Trust – firewood for affected families – $40,000 

Some grants approved in this fortnight do not appear in this list as the recipient has yet to be notified.    

See the full list of entities we've supported so far

Response and Recovery Programme  

This programme supported our immediate emergency response on the ground and is helping communities recover by providing goods, services, and people. The programme is now focused on the Red Cross Home Bundles programme.  

Total approximate spent or committed $1.3 million  

Approximate programme budget: $10 million  

Red Cross response: Disaster Welfare and Support Team travel and equipment to support local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group requirements. Free Psychological First Aid training to 459 people in 35 courses.   

Equipment: Includes generators, dehumidifiers, clean up kits, first aid kits and other items relating to emergency accommodation and other community needs.   

Red Cross Home Bundles programme:  replacement basic furnishings and household items will be offered to vulnerable households identified by our delivery partners.  Households must meet a set criteria to be eligible. The Home Bundles programme is being piloted in the Tairāwhiti region in Te Karaka and Tologa Bay. It will be underway in other affected areas from July and rolled out further in the coming months.  

Learn more about Red Cross Home Bundles programme 

See a breakdown of our spending under the Response and Recovery programme to date  

Investment Programme  

This programme will provide funding to help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from future emergencies and disasters as the impacts of climate change grow.  

Total approximate spent or committed $-  

Approximate programme budget: $5 million  

Learn more 

We’ve been around for nearly 100 years. As the impacts of climate change increase the frequency and severity of weather-related emergencies across the country, we’ll keep being here. 

The New Zealand Disaster Fund helps us to support communities to respond to, recover from, and prepare for disasters and emergencies in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

New Zealand Disaster Fund hub

If you want to stay up-to-date on how the New Zealand Disaster Fund is making a difference you can register for email updates. 

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Practical support and information to help you care for yourself and others after the recent flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Caring for yourself and others after an emergency or disaster

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Lead photo: Auckland Disaster Welfare and Support Team member Lilian Moore helping whānau while deployed in Tairāwhiti.