As it happened: Cyclone Gabrielle - Monday, February 20

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says "our resilience is being tested like never before" as New Zealand continues to deal with the extent of the disaster from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The death toll currently sits at 11 after two more deaths were confirmed on Sunday. 

The latest deaths were a person found in their home in the Napier suburb of Onekawa and a person found in Crownthorpe, near Hastings.

Official Government advice:

  • Floodwaters may be full of sewage, chemicals and other hazardous materials and should be avoided as much as possible.

  • Floodwater can carry bacteria that can contaminate food.

  • Protect yourself when cleaning up flood water and mud by wearing a properly fitted P2- or N95-rated mask, goggles, gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and gumboots or work shoes.

  • Throw away all food and drinking water that has come in contact with floodwater.

  • Do not eat garden produce if the soil has been flooded.

  • In power outages use torches instead of candles, and only use camp cookers and BBQs outdoors.

  • Conserve water where you are advised to.

  • Check the location of pipes and cables before you dig; see Chorus Before you dig website and for all utilities.

  • The best way to assist in the response is through financial donations and not through donated goods.

  • Keep up to date with advice from your local CDEM Group or from

What else you need to know:

  •  A national state of emergency remains in place
  • Tens of thousands of people across the Far North, Northland, Auckland, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay are without power. Civil Defence says it could be "up to a week" before power is fully restored in Hawke's Bay
  • Residents in Gisborne and parts of central Hawke's Bay are being told to urgently conserve water
  • Nine-thousand people are displaced in Hawke's Bay alone, the Government says
  • A total 6517 people remain unaccounted for, but police know that 4260 are okay.

Where you can donate to help:

Useful websites:

These live updates have finished.

9:50pm - There was no shortage of boots on the ground today in Te Karaka as volunteers started clearing out the mud that enveloped the tiny township.

But the community has lost one of its own - 64-year-old John Coates. His son describes him as "a good ole bugger" - a community man who was well-respected by the town and who loved it right back.

John was a third-generation farmer in Te Karaka. He played for the local rugby club, was well-known around town, and he loved his home.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Alice Wilkins here.

9:15pm - Here's an update from police:

An additional 145 Police staff are on the ground in Eastern District to assist with the cyclone response and provide reassurance to local communities. 

Further staff are due to be deployed into the district this week, including iwi and community liaison officers to support reassurance and prevention work.

Police are aware of concerns in Eastern District communities around burglaries and other theft.

It's only natural that offending happening after the cyclone gets extra attention during a state of emergency.

However reports of offending are not significantly up on pre-cyclone levels.

In the 24 hours to 8.30am Monday 20 February, there were 11 reports of burglaries across the Eastern District, which is within the normal range.

No offending is acceptable.

However there has not been a significant increase in offending in the District following Cyclone Gabrielle.

Commissioner of Police Andrew Coster says "There are no words to describe the behaviour of people who are using this devastating event as an opportunity to offend against and take advantage of others in their community.

"Police will continue to respond to reports of offending and work hard to hold offenders to account.

"I'm confident we have enough staff in the right places, for both the cyclone response and routine policing, but we continue to monitor what is required.

"People can be reassured that we have officers out on the streets, across the district, working to keep people and property safe.

"We continue to encourage anyone who has concerns about the safety of themselves or others, or who sees criminal activity occurring, to call 111 immediately so we can respond."

Police have started to see increased reports of family harm throughout areas affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, particularly in Eastern District.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for instances of family harm to increase when the community is under significant stress.

We want anyone experiencing this type of harm to know Police are here to help.

Anyone who feels scared, threatened, or unsafe, is encouraged to call us on 111.

If you are unable to do so, ask a neighbour or passer-by to call for you.

As of 2pm today, there have been 6517 reports of uncontactable people and 4260 reports of people being safe.  11 people have been confirmed as deceased, nine of whom are from Eastern District, two from Muriwai in Auckland West.  There are 2246 reports still under investigation

Police continue to investigate and reconcile these reports as a matter of urgency and can now confirm that all those reported uncontactable in Northland have now been accounted for.

Elsewhere, anyone who has been in touch with someone previously reported uncontactable is urged to update their status through 105 online.

8:30pm - On Monday, Newshub witnessed an incredible family reunion in Hawke's Bay.

The isolated community of Dartmoor remains completely cut off a week after Cyclone Gabrielle tore through the region.

Today, Newshub was there as soldiers braved a major river crossing to deliver vital supplies to stranded locals.

Read and watch the story from Newshub's Nick Truebridge here.

7:20pm - Auckland Emergency Management says there will be on the ground support available at the Muriwai Ranger Station on Motutara Road opposite Sand Dunz Beach Café from tomorrow, 9am-5pm.

There will also be support at the Piha Surf Lifesaving Club from 9am-5pm.

6:30pm - The Green Party says it welcomes the relief funding announced today and calls on the Government to go further by providing additional direct support to people impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle and the January floods.

"Immediate steps the Government should take to help people get back on their feet is to double the Civil Defence Payment, expand Working for Families, and introduce the Winter Energy Payment two months earlier than planned," said the Green Party's spokesperson for social development, Ricardo Menéndez March.

"Although extreme weather affects everyone, it does not affect everyone equally. Climate change disproportionately affects low-income households who are less resourced to cope with severe events such as floods. These are the households that are already most effected by inflation, and who are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table.

"Our priority right now is to make sure people get the support they need and that our communities are supported fully to recover. Expanding Working for Families and bringing forward the Winter Energy Payment would make an immediate difference and money in the pockets of those who need it most.

"The Government should also immediately double the Civil Defence Payment to cover food and replace necessities that people have lost.

"Extreme weather is now happening at a pace and intensity we have never experienced before. This is climate change. As well as providing immediate support, we need to increase incomes to ensure liveable levels as part of a plan to build climate-friendly, resilient communities where everyone has what they need to thrive."

6pm - Unison says it has restored power to 81 percent of homes in Napier and 96 percent in Hastings.

As of this evening, just over 7400 consumers remain without power in the region - around 6100 in Napier and 1300 in Hastings.

Horizon Networks, Eastern Bay of Plenty and Linepower, New Plymouth and Centralines are all sending crews to help Unison, they said.

Unison has also redeployed three Rotorua crews to Hawke's Bay, after most customers in the Rotorua and Taupo regions had their power restored at the end of last week.

"This is an amazing offer of support from lines companies around the country. We are very pleased to welcome these additional crews, as we face some difficult challenges in the coming weeks as we look to move into rural communities to make repairs," said Unison's incident controller Jason Larkin.

"There is still a lot of challenging work in front of us as we look at restoration of rural outlying areas, which will take longer, in some cases a number of weeks due to the significant damage caused on our overhead network.

"Our Hawke's Bay crews have worked extremely hard, doing some long hours over the last seven days to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, with many of them also affected by the cyclone damage. These reinforcements will allow us to rotate some of our crews while continuing the restoration work at a fast pace.

"We want to thank the community for their patience and support, for giving our crews space to get on with their jobs, and for the cooperation in reducing power use when they are reconnected."

5:25pm - Here's the full statement from Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty on the extension of the state of national emergency:

The New Zealand Government has this afternoon extended the state of national emergency declared on 14 February for a further seven days, in response to the widespread impacts caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Minister for Emergency Management, Kieran McAnulty, signed the declaration extending the states of national emergency at 5.11pm today.

"The devastating impact of Cyclone Gabrielle continues to be felt by communities throughout the North Island", Kieran McAnulty said.

"Lives have tragically been lost, and thousands of lives have been upended.

"As the response to Cyclone Gabrielle continues the extension will allow for continued support of local civil defence emergency management and co-ordination of the supply of resources into affected regions.

"Before signing the declaration, there was a discussion at Cabinet and I advised the Opposition spokesperson for emergency management," Kieran McAnulty said.

The extension covers the states of national emergency over the Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawke's Bay regions, and the Tararua District. All regions were consulted before extending the declaration and supported the extension.

"We recognise that some areas have already moved into recovery. This extension allows the Government to continue to support them while we assist remaining areas in their response," Kieran McAnulty said.

"I want to acknowledge again the extraordinary efforts of everyone contributing to what is now one of our most significant emergency responses. The Government thanks you and continues to stand alongside you."

5:09pm - Hipkins says climate change adaption will need to be built into the wider response, and this will be done as part of the work that is being done by the cyclone task force and cabinet committee.

The press conference has finished.

5:06pm - Hipkins says there's a very high threshold for invoking military support for local police. 

He said there is "no state of lawlessness" following the cyclone.

He said people can't set up checkpoints "willy-nilly" and these need to be done in conjunction with police.

5:01pm - Hipkins says no decisions have been made yet about delaying the Census.

4:59pm - Hipkins says a significant amount of payments have been sent out to help out people affected by the cyclone.

Robertson said $28 million so far has been given out though Civil Defence payments.

4:55pm - Robertson says the initial focus on housing is the short-term and getting people into more permanent housing.

4:52pm - Hipkins says the Government is prepared to house people who have been displaced by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Robertson added there are a range of options and these have to be worked through. But the Government will work to be as flexible as they can, he said.

4:48pm - Robertson says the $250 million is a pre-commitment to Budget 2023. The $50 million comes from existing budget contingencies.

He said this will be a "significant investment".

4:45pm - On law and order, Hipkins said while there is a heightened sense of stress, police aren't reporting an increase in crime over and above what they normally deal with.

4:44pm - Here's the full press release from the Government on the support it's offering:

The Government is providing a further interim emergency relief package for regions hit by Cyclone Gabrielle and the January floods.

"I saw first-hand the devastation in the Hawke's Bay yesterday and I know other areas have also been hit hard," Grant Robertson said.

"As Finance Minister I have been clear that we have the fiscal headroom to support our people and we will do that as we have done through all the other disasters we have guided this country though.

"Today's announcement is a further step in our response to provide support as we get a clearer picture of the damage and the costs to each region," Grant Robertson said.

$50 million has been approved by Cabinet to provide immediate support to businesses and the primary sector affected by the weather events.

"Ministers will finalise the distribution of this funding in the coming week, but this will include support to businesses to meet immediate costs and further assist with clean-up. We will coordinate the allocation of this funding with local business groups, iwi and local government in the affected regions.

"The Government recognises the weather events are having an impact on people and businesses meeting their tax obligations, so we are taking a range of tax relief measures as well," Grant Robertson said.

"The roading network has been hit hard in cyclone and flood-affected areas," Michael Wood said.

"Immediate short-term funding is required to help Waka Kotahi and financially constrained local authorities get New Zealand's essential transport network operating again. Cabinet has agreed to an immediate $250 million for these emergency works.

"Our primary focus is on getting lifeline roads open and reconnecting isolated communities.

"Over the last week contractors have worked tirelessly in very challenging conditions to clear slips, remove debris and carry out vital geotechnical safety inspections at dozens of affected sites. To these contractors we say thank you.

"We have a large job ahead to determine the extent of which State and local roads can be rebuilt and which cannot or should not be replaced. This medium and long-term work will take time and require additional funding over and above that announced today," Michael Wood said.

This support comes on top of a range of assistance provided to people and businesses via:

  • Mayoral Relief Funds: $3.35 million has been dispersed in the Tairāwhiti, Hawke's Bay, Thames-Coromandel and Auckland regions, with further requests expected
  • Civil Defence Payments: More than $28.4 million of Civil Defence Payments have been made to approximately 57,000 people
  • The Primary Sector Response: An initial $4 million has been made available through MPI
  • Community and Social support: A $11.5 million package for NGOs and community groups to provide immediate support
  • Initial support for the Upper North Island flooding: An initial $5 million business support fund for those largely in Auckland affected by the floods in January

4:42pm - Cabinet has further agreed to put $250 million into the National Land Transport Fund.

This money will be put towards rebuilding roads.

4:40pm - Incoming Cyclone Recovery Minister Grant Robertson says there is a "big journey" ahead.

He says Cabinet has agreed on a $50 million fund for businesses. Ministers will finalise the allocation of this fund in the coming week.

Tax relief, including interest write-offs and filing date waivers, will also be given to those in affected regions.

4:36pm - Hipkins says a new cyclone recovery taskforce will be established.

This taskforce will be headed by Sir Brian Roche.

Further information, including the terms of reference, will be made in the coming days.

Grant Robertson is taking on the role of Cyclone Recovery Minister. The associate minister will be Barbara Edmonds.

4:34pm - Hipkins says Cabinet has agreed to extend the national state of emergency for a further seven says.

4:31pm - Hipkins and Finance Minister Grant Robertson have arrived.

He said the number of people who have died in Cyclone Gabrielle remains at 11, and he added his thoughts remain with families.

A total 6517 people remain unaccounted for, but police know that 4260 are okay.

About 15,000 households are without power, with the bulk of these in Napier and Hastings.

4:20pm - Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is about to speak at his post-Cabinet press conference.

He is expected to give an update on Cyclone Gabrielle support.

You can watch that livestream above in the video player. Refresh the page if you can't see the stream.

3:50pm - Here's an update from Horizons Regional Council on Cyclone Gabrielle:

Horizons Regional Council continues to assess and respond to the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle both inside and outside of the region.

Horizons group recovery manager Dr Jon Roygard says Horizons has sent trained staff to Tararua District to drive 4WD vehicles as part of the effort to connect with people in remote areas.

"We also have Horizons staff assisting Napier City Council's Civil Defence controllers," he says.

"We remain ready to respond to any requests for help from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) - the lead agency for the National State of Emergency which includes Tararua. Approximately 20 staff from across the region are providing support to the Hawke's Bay.

"Tararua District is continuing to respond to the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle. Boil water notices remain in place in Pongaroa and Ākitio, while Dannevirke residents are encouraged to minimise use while the Tamaki River remains turbid.

"A number of properties in the Tararua are still without power and more are without cell coverage, with lifelines companies continuing to work to reconnect affected households. Welfare checks are being done on a grid approach, with an area selected on a map and every property in it visited to ensure people are safe and have what they need.

"In regards to the rest of the region, we're remaining in regular contact with the Rural Coordination Group to support our impacted rural communities. We'd like to acknowledge the great work rural community and industry groups are doing in this space."

Dr Roygard says Horizons staff have been assessing waterway assets such as stopbanks as water levels have dropped.

"While the majority of the network held up well, the Pohangina River has multiple sites requiring repair, as well as sections of the Rangitīkei and Ōroua rivers. We will also be doing future aerial assessments of the Manawatū, Ōroua, Rangitīkei and Pohangina rivers, as well as Tararua waterways, this week.

"The work on the Manawatū River near Te Matai Road, which was being done to prevent erosion and improve resilience, held up well aside from some scour and erosion. Contractors returned to the site on Monday to undertake repairs and continue placing protective rock.

"We are also working to get resources into the Tararua District to help with repairs on river management infrastructure in the hardest hit part of the region. Landowners who see river management damage on their properties can register this with us via

"Some river monitoring equipment in Tararua was damaged during Cyclone Gabrielle. We plan to have this up and running again by the middle of the week."

Dr Roygard says offers of help and donations from the public have been generous and appreciated.

"However, the message from NEMA remains that monetary donations through relief funds are preferred. The Hawke's Bay Emergency Management Group has also clearly indicated any donations of this kind are to go through established charities to avoid extra pressure going on those responding to the event."

Pohangina River in flood looking south.
Pohangina River in flood looking south. Photo credit: Horizons Regional Council

3:25pm - Waka Kotahi says it's on target to have State Highway 23 into Raglan open by the end of the month.

They've released footage showing their crews working on building a temporary road around the major slip that first occurred in January's storm, and then worsened due to Cyclone Gabrielle.

"You can see the earthworks and tree removal done by our crews to clear space for the temporary road. They've made very quick progress since the start of February despite having to put down tools in response to the cyclone," Waka Kotahi said.

"While our target date isn't a firm opening date, we're pulling out all the stops to make it happen as a matter of urgency. We want to recognise the efforts our contractors are putting in, as well as the generosity of the landowners who've allowed us to use their land.

"This diversion around the slip will give us the time we need to thoroughly assess the slip and plan for the long-term resilience of the route, while allowing for people to get back to using this vital state highway."

3:10pm - A Waikato Mongrel Mob leader says its members aren't responsible for looting in Hawke's Bay in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle. 

The community was battered by the cyclone last week with intense flooding, causing massive destruction and multiple deaths.

But as residents desperately try to recover from the disaster, tensions are rising with accusations gang members are stealing much-needed supplies from hard-hit communities. 

Newshub has heard first-hand accounts of people witnessing the theft of food and nappies. Others say generators and prized possessions are being taken from flood-damaged homes.

Read the full story from Newshub's Ireland Hendry-Tennent here.

2:55pm - Here's an update from Auckland Emergency Management:

Isolated communities across Tāmaki Makaurau received welfare drops of essential supplies over the weekend, helping to tide them over while access to their road, community or area is restored.

Auckland Emergency Management Deputy Controller Rachel Kelleher said support for isolated communities was a priority as the region moved from responding to the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

"We are continuing to respond to our communities' needs, in particular our isolated communities, including the delivery of emergency provisions including bottled water, food and sanitary items and more," she said.

Over the weekend supplies given out via helicopter and trucks including the following:

  • 20,100L of water, as well as a tanker for Muriwai
  • 11.25 tonnes of food
  • 1850L of fuel (1400L of 91,450L of diesel respectively)
  • ~100 boxes of nappies
  • 56 portable toilets

The weather may be looking better, but we are asking people to continue to be cautious if they are leaving their homes today.

People are being asked to be vigilant around landslides. Further landslides may occur, so stay away from the affected area.

If you have had damage to your home or property from landslips or flooding, a reminder to take photos of the damage and call your insurer to report the damage. They will advise you what to do next.

Clean up and recovery

If your property was flooded, it's important to drain, dry and clean it up as quickly as possible.

Floodwater can contain lots of nasty bugs and hazards which can contaminate your home and the things in it.

Cleaning everything will reduce the risk of your and your whanau becoming unwell, including skin and eye infections. Drying out your property and belongings also prevents mould growing in your home. Removing waste and debris and clearing stagnant water will also prevent heath issue from occurring.

If you have contact with flood water, flooded property or items contaminated with flood water or items contaminated with flood water you should wash your hands thoroughly. Ensure you wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where appropriate.

Food safety

  • Floodwaters can carry bugs that can contaminate food.
  • Take care with food from your fridge and freezer to avoid food poisoning and manage spoilage issues.
  • After more than two days without power, perishable foods may not be safe to eat.

Civil Defence payments

Civil Defence Payments are available for people who have been affected by the flooding. You don't have to be on a benefit to qualify for a Civil Defence Payment. Non-Residents may also be eligible. In most cases it doesn't matter what your income is or what assets you have.

To find out more information head to the Auckland Emergency Management website or call Work and Income on 0800 400 100.

Isolated communities

  • The whole of Bethells Beach now has mobile coverage
  • Te Henga Valley has had their power restored
  • Bethells Beach still has no power – power poles are up, Vector threading lines and anticipate power to be restored today.

Websites have been created for both Piha and Muriwai communities.

Community support Hubs have been set-up in Muriwai at Muriwai Ranger Station on Motutara Road opposite Sand Dunz Beach Café open between the hours of 8am to 6pm and Piha at Piha Surf Lifesaving Club, 23 Marine Parade South.

As we turn our attention to clean-up we anticipate skips will be delivered in the coming days.

Waste collection

Kerbside collections are back to the normal schedule.

As we turn our attention to clean-up, we anticipate skips will be delivered to some West Coast communities in the coming days.


  • As of 8:00am, around 2,000 homes and businesses remain without power in the Vector supply area. More than 37,500 homes and businesses have had their power restored.
  • Crews are continuing their work today to restore as many properties as possible.


  • Watercare is encouraging Aucklanders to use water wisely as the network recovers from the storm and cyclone.
  • More information can be found on the Watercare website.
  • Community water sites can be found in these locations:
    • Piha - Piha Domain Motor Camp
    • Muriwai - outside Sand Dunz Café 
    • Waitākere - Waitākere Hall
  • Water tankers are also being made available to North Piha and Muriwai.


  • There are 8 Civil Defence Centres, shelters, and info hubs open.

Rapid building assessments

  • Auckland Council's Building Consents team is continually assessing affected buildings.
  • The team has issued 202 red placards, 253 yellow placards and 869 white placards relating to Cyclone Gabrielle.
  • This is in addition to the 357 red placards, 1943 yellow placards and 3179 white placards issued following the 27 January storm event, although there may be some overlap with the numbers issued in relation to the cyclone.
  • Anyone with damage to their house, or who has slips close to their property, please contact

Safe travel 

  • There are still roads across the region that remain closed, including partial closures. Go to the Auckland Transport website for more specific information.
  • We urge Aucklanders to help by continuing to stay away from areas that are cordoned off.

If you have been affected by recent weather events and need some help, there are support services available. Our website has all the information.

2:40pm - Here's an update from Commissioner of Police Andrew Coster on Cyclone Gabrielle.

He said an extra 120 staff have moved into the Eastern District, with an additional 20 following. They are also bringing in the Eagle helicopter and are prioritising finding people who are uncontactable. About 6000 were registered as uncontactable, and 4000 of those have been found.

2:18pm - Pictures captured by Newshub on Sunday show wooden debris and slash completely covering a maize crop in Tolaga Bay.

As it happened: Cyclone Gabrielle - Monday, February 20
Photo credit: Newshub

Another picture captured on Friday shows a thin blue line of fibre optic cable for the East Cape draped across farmland and bush as a temporary fix to the cable washed out by floodwaters.

As it happened: Cyclone Gabrielle - Monday, February 20
Photo credit: Newshub

2:01pm - MP for Te Atatū Phil Twyford is calling for ministers to buy out flooded homeowners otherwise he fears his constituents will "be forced to either rebuild in the same place and wait for the next flood, or walk away from their properties and face financial ruin".

In a letter to ministers, Twyford strongly pushed for a managed retreat in response to recent weather events.

"In particular that the owners of the most at-risk properties should have the option of voluntary buy-outs."

Twyford said many of his constituents have been flooded twice in the last year and a half.

"We know surely that it makes no sense now for those home owners to just rebuild in the same place."

1:12pm - As many farmers across the motu come to terms with the devastating loss of stock, Hawke's Bay Regional Council has issued a reminder of how to bury dead stock. 

Dead stock advice:

If already on farm, farmers may be able to bury their own dead livestock as per normal conditions:

  • Consider proximity to waterways – should be 50m from a waterway
  • Consider usual pest/vermin control

If not on a farm, or there are too many on the property for the landowner to deal with, call Hawke's Bay Regional Council on 06 835 9200 or 0800 108 838.

1:04pm - Auckland Emergency Management provides an update. 

Watch the full press conference below. 

12:51pm - Police have confirmed the woman found dead on the shore in Bay View on Tuesday is 55-year-old Susane Caccioppoli of Taradale.

A police spokesperson said their thoughts and condolences are with her whānau and friends.

"Her death will be referred to the Coroner."

12:44pm - A Hawke's Bay family have thanked New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) crews with a massive 'thank you' sign on the lawn of their home.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence said NZDF and Civil Defence teams have been working to take essential supplies to isolated communities.

An image captured by response crews shows one family, grateful for the deliveries, thanking NZDF and Civil Defence for their service.

"Thank you," their sign reads.

The family can be seen standing near the sign waving at NZDF crews above. 

"We continue to be blown away by the incredible resilience of our community," Civil Defence said on Facebook.

As it happened: Cyclone Gabrielle - Monday, February 20
Photo credit: Hawke's Bay Civil Defence

11:55am - Auckland's iconic Mt Eden shot tower will be demolished after fears the tower would tumble in strong winds.

The demolition of the historic Colonial Ammunition Company Shot Tower will begin on Tuesday and is expected to take seven days.

Auckland Council's director of regulatory services Craig Hobbs says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment approved the tower's demolition.

"Residents who were evacuated ahead of Cyclone Gabrielle hitting Auckland on Monday 13 February won’t be able to move back into their homes until the works are finished."

Hobbs said his team are working "at pace" so residents can get back to their homes safely.

As it happened: Cyclone Gabrielle - Monday, February 20
Photo credit: Heritage New Zealand

11:38am - Electricity distribution and fibre optic network company Unison says it's made "significant" progress in reconnecting residents along the east coast.

Unison's incident controller Jason Larkin said more than 70 percent of power has been restored in Napier.

"Overnight another 5100 consumers in Hawke’s Bay were reconnected. Unison has now restored power to 73 percent of homes in Napier and 95 percent in Hastings. As of this morning just over 10,300 consumers remain without power in the region – 8600 in Napier and 1700 in Hastings."

Larkin added restoration in rural areas "will take longer", in some cases a "number of weeks" because of the significant damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

"Overnight another 5100 consumers in Hawke’s Bay were reconnected. Unison has now restored power to 73 percent of homes in Napier and 95 percent in Hastings. As of this morning just over 10,300 consumers remain without power in the region – 8600 in Napier and 1700 in Hastings."

As it happened: Cyclone Gabrielle - Monday, February 20
Photo credit: Unison

Key messages from Unison:

  • Conserve power.
  • Please respect and stay clear of Unison crews as they work hard to repair sections of the power network.
  • Given widespread impact and regional loss of supply from Transpower, we are advising customers to disregard estimated restoration times for outages on our website, as these are based on normal working conditions. 
  • We understand the concerns of our business community and local industries in relation to power supply.  Given the limited supply available from Transpower into the region and the unprecedented situation facing our communities, we are working closely with Transpower and Civil Defence to allocate the available supply to restore power to critical community infrastructure and households. 
  • Check for fallen or damaged electricity lines and treat lines as live at all times. Never touch wires or lines lying on the ground, hanging from poles, or objects such as tree branches that may be touching them. Fallen lines or wires may still be carrying an electrical current and could shock, injure or even kill if touched. Unison is urging anyone who sees a power line down to report these to
  • Turn off the power at the main switch if you suspect any electrical damage in your home. If the power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances to prevent possible damage by a power surge when the electricity supply is restored.
  • When the electricity network is damaged, it might take some time to get reconnected, so make sure you have a battery-operated radio, a torch, spare batteries, and a full gas bottle for your BBQ as part of your emergency kit.
  • Medically-dependent customers are advised to prepare for the likelihood of no power and make alternative arrangements in advance.

11:18am - The daughter of a woman who lost her life to Cyclone Gabrielle has shared a tribute to her mother on Facebook, saying: "Mum was a cheerful, welcoming, and kind constant in our lives."

Susane Caccioppoli was last seen by her partner on Tuesday morning after rapid floodwater took over the Esk Valley home the pair were house-sitting.

Caccioppoli's body was later found washed up on a beach, Stuff reports. 

Caccioppoli's daughter Bianka-lee Bryan shared a tribute written by her brother on Facebook.

"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."

Bryan said while "we wish more than anything to see her walk through our door with one hack of a survival story to tell, we find comfort in knowing she is now held closely in dad's arms".

Bryan added her mother always lit up a room "with her beautiful looks and personality, armed with a story to tell".

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

It is not yet clear where or how Caccioppoli's family will hold her funeral. 

As it happened: Cyclone Gabrielle - Monday, February 20
Photo credit: WeatherWatch

10:45am - WeatherWatch forecasts 25 to 30mm of rain to fall in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne this week. 

The wet weather may come as a relief for those on rainwater supply, but it may be unwelcomed by flood victims who are trying to clean up the mess Cyclone Gabrielle has left.

WeatherWatch forecasts 25mm of rain to fall in Napier, 33mm or more for Wairoa and 20mm for Gisborne.

The private forecaster said the rain comes as a southerly change heads up the motu from Tuesday. 

"Bringing a bit of brief autumn-coolness to some in the south and east."

WeatherWatch says the rain may help clear metres of silt and "tamper down the silt dust cloud blowing across roads and highways".

But it will lead to further mud for at least 36 hours, and "it won't be easy to dry things".

"For the most part rainfall at this level shouldn't be too major and wouldn't usually warrant much attention - but any wet weather will come with extra scrutiny for the eastern and upper North Island for at least another few weeks following the flooding and rain damage recently."

9:46am -  Two Hawke's Bay road workers had a pistol and sawn-off shotgun pointed at them while setting up temporary traffic management.

Abuse of flood traffic workers has reached a startling level as staff face daily abuse, cars speeding through road closures and most concerning, guns pointed at them, Newsroom reports.

East Coast traffic manager Ryan Lawson told Newsroom "honestly for us it was very, very scary moment and that crew just had to up and leave".

Lawson said the staff affected have been provided counselling.

"It’s all about ensuring our staff are well looked after because it is quite a traumatic time for everyone. It's just about us doing the best we can with the resources we have, keeping everyone moving but keeping everyone safe."

8:42am - Hawke's Bay Civil Defence has issued a hard reminder to residents that Waitangi Bridge in Awatoto on SH51 is closed. 

It comes as a bottleneck of traffic is seen near SH51. Hawke's Bay Civil Defence said the road is closed to everyone except emergency services and critical workers only.

The civil defence said SH2 Napier to Hastings expressway is open if travel is a must.

8:23am - A 10-day Rāhui has been put in place in Hawke's Bay following the catastrophic events of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Mana Ahuriri Trust - the treaty settlement organisation for Ahuriri Hapū said they understood kōiwi (human remains) from flooded urupā had been carried through floods to the sea. 

"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 Bay, at least for the next 10 days."

7:17am - Police commissioner Andrew Coster says there are "no words" to describe why looters and thieves are exploiting already devastated flood victims.

He said family harm reports are also on the rise, with a 60 percent increase in cases in flood-affected areas.

"That's where we're seeing elevated concern right now. Those front-line staff will be responding to a wide range of incidents."

He added dishonesty offending, family harm incidents and gang-related behaviour is "unfortunately" something police see frequently in the Hawke's Bay district.

Coster said while the fear among communities around looting is "understandable" some information circulating about particular situations isn't always inaccurate.

"That isn't helping people's state of mind when they are feeling fatigued and really vulnerable. I think we just need calm."

The commissioner wouldn't go into detail about the inaccurate information but said the incidents reported within the community haven't eventuated.

"When we've dug into them we have been unable to substantiate."

Coster told AM 6500 people were reported uncontactable but police have since been in contact 4000 of those.

"The gap is closing. As people are coming online we really encourage them to let us know that they're okay," he said.

"If someone has reported someone missing and you've found them, please let us know so we can remove them off the list."

Coster said the total of Cyclone Gabrielle-related deaths stands at 11 but said that will grow.

"We expect a majority the vast majority of these [uncontable people reports] will be explained by people being out of communication."

Coster added further search operations across flood-damaged properties are still needed before police are sure of the exact death toll.

"We just need to wait and see how that plays out."

7:12am - East Coast MP Kiri Allan says Gisborne dairy owners are being escorted by police to the bank as looters and thieves take advantage.

Allan said her region has moved to cash-only as internet and cellphone service remains limited, but with the return of cash comes an unfortunate risk.

And Allan had a stern message for those exploiting the vulnerable.

"Get your act together, cut it out."

She told AM she's been "heartened" by the actions of police to escort dairy owners to the bank.

"[They] physically drive the owner and operators of our Four Squares down to the bank to be able to deposit their money."

6:44am - Central Hawke's Bay residents in Waipawa and Ōtane are being urged to continue conserving water after the region's flood-damaged water pumps failed overnight.

In a Facebook post, the Central Hawke's Bay District Council said both pumps at its Tikokino Rd bore failed.

"This means we will be tankering water into reservoirs to maintain this supply to large parts of Waipawa and Ōtane."

The council added it's "critical" all residents conserve water.

6:24am - Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti police say there have been no reports of crime overnight.

It comes after flood victims in Hawke's Bay say they're "scared" as looters and thieves take advantage of the vulnerable.

Over the weekend, Newshub heard first-hand accounts of locals witnessing the theft of food and nappies given to hard-hit communities.

6:12am - Pope Francis has acknowledged Aotearoa's cyclone recovery efforts and has encouraged donations to devastated communities. 

Pope Francis addressed worshippers in the Vatican, expressing solidarity over a series of global tragedies, including Ukraine and quake-stricken Syria and Turkey

He referenced environmental disasters, saying Aotearoa's people face a brutal reality. 

"So many people suffering from poverty and environmental devastation. I'm close in this regard to the people of New Zealand who have been hit in recent days by a devastating cyclone. Let us not forget those who suffer, let our charity be attentive and concrete."

5:55am - Police have confirmed 59 people have been arrested in the Eastern District area since Cyclone Gabrielle devastated the region.

Police said 42 people had been arrested in Hawke's Bay and 17 in Tairāwhiti since Tuesday

Here is the full statement from police: 

Eastern District Police are continuing efforts in the cyclone-hit region, including conducting 2,028 reassurance patrols to help keep people and property safe.

As of 2pm today, 19 February, there have been 6431 reports of uncontactable people registered and 3216 reports from people registering that they are okay.

People who have now been in touch with someone previously reported uncontactable are urged to update their status through 105 online, so we can prioritise those who need the most urgent checks.

As communications come back on, and Police’s dedicated teams work to reconcile various reports made, we can expect these numbers to fluctuate.

A total of 120 frontline staff have now come into Eastern District from other parts of the country, to support local staff in a range of frontline capacities.

This additional resource includes the Police Eagle helicopter which has been in the district since Friday.

In coming days Police will deploy another approximately 25 staff to the District, including iwi and community liaison officers to support reassurance and prevention work.

Since Tuesday 14 February, Police staff have conducted more than 2000 reassurance jobs across the District.

In Hawke’s Bay there have been 1345 reassurance jobs including road and foot patrols, road safety checks, and Police presence at essential facilities.

There have been 683 reassurance jobs conducted in Tairawhiti.

Police are also continuing to hold offenders to account.

Since Tuesday Police have arrested 42 people for various offences in Hawke’s Bay and 17 in Tairawhiti.

Frustratingly, rumours and false information is being spread across our communities, and only serves to make vulnerable people feel even more unsafe.

As well, each false rumour that requires investigation is taking Police staff away from the important work they are doing.

Police are confident there is sufficient staff in Eastern District to manage both the emergency response and routine policing, and we continue to monitor what is required.