Cyclone Gabrielle: All Blacks help clean up flood-damaged marae in Hawke's Bay

An unlikely work party joined the recovery effort in Hawke's Bay on Tuesday as the All Blacks rugby team dropped in on a badly-damaged marae.

While most stuck to the spadework, Jordie Barrett showed his skillset extends beyond the rugby field.

Jordie Barrett is used to digging deep when it comes to cleaning up the opposition, however this is a clean-up on a whole other scale. 

"They must have gone through an unbelievable amount of loss - it's kind of hard to picture what it must have been like but there's still just still so much damage," he said.

A powhiri with a difference was held on Tuesday morning at Tangoio Marae which welcomed the All Blacks squad to help move mud. 

The All Blacks team helped to clear away mud and silt at the damaged marae.
The All Blacks team helped to clear away mud and silt at the damaged marae. Photo credit: Newshub

The marae in March was hit hard by Cyclone Gabrielle, and today things aren't much different.

"You can see how high some water got on some houses, seeing some houses not there and obviously this marae is just absolutely destroyed," All Black Aaron Smith said.

"We'll be hurting for years, we'll be hurting for years even when we rebuild," Ngāti Kahungunu kaiwhakairo Joe Taylor said.

Taylor carved the wharenui, he said his people and those surrounding Tangoio may be forced to leave their whenua entirely.

He said it's not because of the size of the clean-up, but because of the threat of future weather events and the further damage they could bring.

"It was the highest part and now we might have to go higher, it's going to be difficult to find a place here in the valley that we can still see Tangoio, I don't know how I'm going to behave," he said.

His community and many like it are still clearing away the silt and mud that remain. And according to Taylor, any help is appreciated.

"You know what we're doing is such a small, small percent of the work they've already done and are yet to do, so our guys get more out of this than what we're giving, that's for sure," All Blacks coach Ian Foster said.

"I'm looking at and cheering at these people or cursing them for dropping the ball, and then I see them in person and [I'm] shaking their hands," Taylor said. "It's so wonderful." 

Today's efforts came as a welcome boost to a clean-up that is still far from over.