Cyclone Gabrielle: Kate Hawkesby, Leo Molloy under fire for downplaying storm

Broadcaster Kate Hawkesby and former Auckland mayoral candidate Leo Molloy are under fire for their comments downplaying Cyclone Gabrielle.

On Monday, as the Far North was battered by the effects of the cyclone, Hawkesby said: "With all the anxiety inducing alerts and warnings & breathless media coverage, I'm just wondering where this cyclone is?

"Let's hope it stays this way... Overcast, light rain, bit windy. Where are you Gabrielle?" she posted with a shrugging woman emoji in an Instagram Story for her nearly 27,000 followers.

Much of the feedback to her post was scathing, with one sharing the image and asking: "Do you think Kate can see the cyclone yet?"

Another posted a link to Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty's tweet that a State of National Emergency had been declared just after 8.43am on Tuesday.

Hawkesby has not since addressed her controversial post, which automatically expired after 24 hours. However on Tuesday at 3.52am she posted an image of herself at the NewsTalk ZB studio captioned: "Gabe's arrived in Akld."

Molloy has also faced scorn over a post he published on Monday which argued against official advice about the impending national disaster.

"Real time Viaduct update. Note the red flag in the distance, can't raise a flutter. No doubt it's coming but it sure as hell ain't here yet and the city should NOT be emasculated / evacuated by false alarms / boys crying wolf. If you're from the CBD best you get to work people," Molloy stated.

Reaction to his post was swift, with one asking: "Where did you take that picture, the deck of the Titanic?"

Another posted an image of Auckland and the power outages around the region, noting: "The Vector outage map shows a different story."

Molloy has not responded to people calling out his initial post, which remains published on his Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon.

He told Newshub on Tuesday it was "sad" that people had suffered in the storm, but stood by his original post, claiming it was a remark on how "eerie" the CBD was on Monday.

In a more recent post, Molloy made reference to the fact Muriwai had been badly affected by Gabrielle overnight and that one firefighter was missing after a landslide in the area with another critically injured.

"Thoughts go out to all impacted by cyclone Gab, especially the firefighters family," Molloy said.