Cyclone Gabrielle: 'Devoted and protective' mother confirmed as dead after devastating flooding

A devoted mother who survived breast cancer twice has been confirmed as one of the eleven people who died in Cyclone Gabrielle. 

The devastating cyclone battered the country last week causing mass flooding, evacuations and devastation.

So far 11 people have been confirmed as dying in the horrific weather event including Susane Caccioppoli, who was last seen on Tuesday when floodwaters ripped through the Esk Valley home where she and her boyfriend were staying. 

Caccioppoli’s daughter Bianka-lee Bryan said her mother was a "cheerful, welcoming and kind" person in a Facebook tribute on Sunday. 

"She will be remembered as a devoted and protective mother, oma, daughter and sister, with so much love to give," Bryan said. 

"She was gifted with the voice of an angel, blessing everyone at the local country music club for many years. She was always happiest when with her family.

"Those who knew mum closely would understand life was not easy for her. Only to mention having fought through breast cancer twice resulting in over 11 arduous surgeries in the last 15 years. 

"She was always our precious dove. The last few years in particular have been the hardest for her following the death of her loving husband, and our devoted father. She remained the super glue that held our family together with her inexhaustible love, no matter the troubles in her life."

Bryan said it was disappointing the family found out about her final hours through the media. Last Thursday the owner of the home Caccioppoli was staying at, Maik Beekmans, told Radio NZ he believed she had died when floodwaters gutted the home. 

Bryan said finding out through the media "stole any remaining light away" from the family who was "holding onto hope and praying for a safe outcome". 

But she said they are grateful to those who had endeavoured to fast-track the stressful search. 

"We also extend our gratitude to those working day and night throughout this disaster, and thank you for bringing our mum home to us." 

She said her mum was the type of person who "always lit up a room".

"Our thoughts, prayers, and broken love goes out to those who have also lost loved ones, homes, animals, and livelihoods from this devastating event.

"We love you forever mum. We miss you so much already. Fly high, you are free." 

The official death toll from Cyclone Gabrielle currently sits at 11 but with thousands still missing officials expect this number to rise.

In Hawke's Bay a 10-day rāhui has been introduced due to concerns kōiwi (human remains) could have been washed into the sea during the cyclone. 

"Notice is hereby given that the Mana Ahuriri Trust has placed a rāhui - a ban on fishing and kaimoana gathering on Te Whanga a Ruawharo - Hawke's Bay, at least for the next 10 days," the rāhui notice said.