Six months on: Red Cross commits $20 million in disaster relief

10 August 2023

Update 12: New Zealand Disaster Fund

We’ve now committed more than $20 million in support to disaster-affected communities following Cyclone Gabrielle and other severe weather events. In this update, we look back at what’s been achieved over the last six months.

This weekend marks half a year since Cyclone Gabrielle cut a destructive path through the North Island, barely three weeks after the damaging Anniversary weekend flooding in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

View the New Zealand Disaster Fund Six-Month Report - Feb to Aug 2023 (PDF, 5MB)

A swift response

A Red Cross volunteer sets up stretcher beds in an evacuation centre.

Disaster Welfare and Support Team member Logan Sheehan sets up beds at the Kelston Civil Defence Centre in Auckland in February

Within days, Red Cross people were providing shelter, support and supplies. Disaster Welfare and Support Teams were deployed to provide assistance to Civil Defence Emergency Management in the days following the cyclone.

But more was needed.

As the immense scale of the damage and the recovery needs became apparent, we launched a fundraising appeal for the New Zealand Disaster Fund.

Our Secretary General Sarah Stuart-Black says the New Zealand public and businesses were quick to respond and support the many thousands affected. Six months on, more than $27 million has been raised.  “We’re incredibly grateful to the more than 54,000 people, businesses and organisations who gave so generously to the Fund. We have been able to achieve so much with everyone’s help.”

Hear from Sarah as she reflects on our recovery support and the path ahead in this video

Helping communities help themselves

Sarah Gribbin running Psychological First Aid courses in Hastings

Sarah Gribbin running Psychological First Aid courses in Hastings

The Fund has supported Psychological First Aid (PFA) training for more than 670 people in Hawke's Bay, Tairāwhiti, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Northland. The sessions are designed to equip people assisting others to recognise distress and provide the emotional and practical support that are often essential in post-disaster recovery.

Community organisations across affected areas mobilised to support people. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’ve been able to support this work.   

“We’ve now distributed more than $14 million through over 165 grants to those who know what their local communities need. These groups have been helping in a myriad of ways,” says Sarah Stuart-Black. “From organising caravan accommodation, to cleaning up homes, to counselling services, to providing baby supplies – we’ve been able to help them continue doing their great work and to reach more people.” 

Our support also includes grants to mayoral or council funds providing hardship grants. This includes $3 million to the Hawke’s Bay Disaster Relief Trust, and $2 million to Auckland Council for their planned disaster fund.

Settling into home again

We've now committed $5.5 million to the Red Cross Home Bundles initiative, helping people with limited means to replace damaged furniture and other basic household items.

The programme is now underway, helping the hundreds of people waiting to return to their homes across the upper North Island, who will struggle to replace what they’ve lost. Sean Stewart, General Manager Emergency Management and International, described the programme, saying, “Our Home Bundles programme will provide households in need with new basic furniture and other goods, so we can at least take this one worry off their list.”

The Bundles will contain basic, new household goods such as whiteware, beds and bedding, living room furniture, heaters and essential kitchenware. They are available to the most vulnerable households that meet a set criteria. People will be referred to the programme by our local delivery partners, which include council welfare teams and community and iwi organisations who know their communities the best.

The Home Bundles programme is now underway in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Te Karaka, Tologa Bay and Wairoa. It will soon be available in affected communities in Hawke’s Bay and other areas.

As this programme is rolled out over the coming months, we expect to be able to help at least 500 households.    

Continued support

Stocking up emergency response equipment

Stocking up emergency response equipment

The Fund is now closed to new donations as we focus on making use of the rest of the funds raised, through the Home Bundles programme and investing in disaster preparedness.

At this stage, the final $6 million of the Fund will be used to provide equipment and other support to help affected communities be better prepared for another disaster. The entire Fund will be committed by the one-year anniversary of the cyclone in February.

Since the cyclone and severe flooding and landslips as a result of the storms, Red Cross people have spent thousands of hours on ongoing support activities, Sarah Stuart-Black says. “Recovery takes a long time and we’ll be there supporting people and communities for many months to come.”

New Zealand Disaster Fund closure

The New Zealand Disaster Fund has now closed to new donations. A huge thank you to everyone who gave so generously to the Fund. Your support has made our work possible and is making an immense difference for communities affected by the cyclone and severe weather events. 

People can still support our ongoing emergency management work across Aotearoa by donating to our Where the Need is Greatest fund.

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 $6.5 million has been committed to this programme, including approximately $5.5 million for Home Bundles.   
  2. The Partnership Grants Programme provides grants to community organisations supporting community response and recovery. At this stage, approximately $14 million has been committed to this programme.  
  3. The Resilience Investment Programme will be focused on helping ensure communities are better prepared and supported in the event of another disaster. At this stage, approximately $6 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: $20.5 million  

Total donations: $27.4 million  

Note: Figures provided are as accurate as possible as at 6 August. 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: $14 million   

Number of grants made: 166  

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. It is now focused on rolling out Red Cross Home Bundles.   

Total approximate spent or committed: $6.5 million    

Red Cross Home Bundles programme: Supplying new basic furnishings and household items to eligible households in need identified by our delivery partners. The programme is underway in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Te Karaka, Tologa Bay and Wairoa. It will soon be available in affected communities in Hawke’s Bay and other areas. This initiative will take months to complete as people wait to move back into their homes.

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 672 people in 56 courses.  

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

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

Resilience Investment Programme  

This programme will provide funding to help ensure communities are better prepared and supported in future emergencies and disasters as the impacts of climate change grow.  

Approximate budget: $6 million  

The next update will be published in mid-September.

Learn more 

We’ve been around for more than 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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