Cyclone Hale aftermath: Firefighter bikes two hours over rugged terrain to deliver supplies to Tairāwhiti community

The recipient of the supplies was one of many cut off by the damage caused by Cyclone Hale.
The recipient of the supplies was one of many cut off by the damage caused by Cyclone Hale. Photo credit: Via RNZ


Monty Manuel biked for two hours across rugged terrain to deliver urgent supplies.

The recipient, a resident in Whareponga near Ruatōrea, is one of many in communities cut off by damage and connectivity loss resulting from Cyclone Hale earlier this week.

Manuel, who lives in Ruatōrea, is a senior officer in the Ruatōrea fire brigade.

Tairāwhiti Civil Defence controller Nedine Thatcher Swann said his actions were a testament to the resilience of the community.

"It is one of many stories we hear of as residents, contractors, crews and agencies all work together for our community," she said.

Thatcher Swann said as internet and power were reconnected to most of the cut off communities today, more welfare needs would come to their attention.

Roading crews were tasked with fixing 432 reports of damage and many roads remained closed, including State Highway 35 between Tokomaru Bay and Ruatōrea.

Food, petrol, medication and gas bottles were being flown up the coast by helicopter to residents on Tauwharepare Road, cut off since Tuesday, and welfare parcels were being distributed by community links in Ruatōrea.

The Defence Force would be delivering food to Four Squares by Unimog -- a kind of all-terrain vehicle -- and there were still 137 households without power.

Chorus teams had been flown in to find and fix the broken fibre cable to restore communication, and Air Ruatōrea would also be flying up the coast with Eftpos and Starlink technology to reconnect them.

Minister Meka Whaitiri arrived this morning and was briefed by Civil Defence before flying over the worst hit areas to see the damage first hand, and local MP Kiri Allan visited Civil Defence over the response.

Thatcher Swann said as the focus remained on reconnecting access and power to cut off communities, the Civil Defence team was also keeping a close eye on next week's weather.

"There could still be more slips and slumps around the region."