Cyclone Gabrielle: International fundraising appeal, special Lotto draw announced to support recovery efforts

The Government has announced an international fundraising appeal and a special Lotto draw to help support the recovery efforts from Cyclone Gabrielle.

This is modelled on the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, which raised over $94 million to assist with the rebuild and revitalisation of the city following the 2011 earthquake. 

The special Lotto draw will be held on Saturday, March 18.

"We will rebound from Gabrielle by building back better, safer, and smarter. This global appeal means we can harness local and international donations and channel them to the communities and projects that need them the most," Hipkins said.

"Gabrielle - and before that, the Auckland floods - has affected millions of people and many thousands of businesses and farmers.     

"The regions affected account for around 30 percent of New Zealand's land area and are special to so many people, both here and abroad. So I know there will be a real appetite to support them to get back on their feet as soon as possible."

Hipkins said supporting the appeal and the Lotto draw is a great way of showing that New Zealanders have each others' backs and help out those whose lives have been upended.

"I feel a real sense of national unity in the wake of the Cyclone and it's humbling to see so many already making donations and offers of assistance. Every little bit makes a difference," Hipkins said.

"This appeal will focus on the medium to long-term recovery projects which ensure affected regions build back better with greater resilience and are better prepared to withstand the next extreme weather event.  

"As we saw in Christchurch it's the facilities where people come together which so often need the most help. Be it sports clubs, marae or community halls, there is huge need across multiple affected regions."

Hipkins said the Government will be looking at how it can harness both the public and private sectors to get in behind the appeal, while also making the most of New Zealand's international connections and looking to fundraising efforts here too.

Hipkins thanked Westpac and Clemenger BBDO, who he said have made this appeal a reality. He also thanked tech company Meta for their support to promote the appeal.

Donations can be made at:

  • Appeal website:
  • Text GIVE to 2454 to donate $3 to the Cyclone Appeal
  • Internet banking: Cyclone Gabrielle Appeal Fund, 03 0251 0040146 00
  • Over the counter at all trading banks.
Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Newshub.

Lotto NZ chief executive Chris Lyman said his organisation is "very proud" to be holding the special draw.

He said for this draw, Lotto NZ will double its usual community contribution so that half of all tickets sales – or 50 cents in every dollar spent by players on Lotto, Powerball or Strike – will go to support those impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.

"Like all New Zealanders, our hearts go out to the communities that have suffered the devastating impact of Cyclone Gabrielle – and we want to do all we can to help," Lyman said.

"Raising money for the community is Lotto NZ's fundamental purpose, and so we welcome the opportunity to support recovery efforts by raising funds through this special draw.

"We know our customers are equally keen to pull together for their fellow Kiwis, and this draw gives them an opportunity to do that."

Lyman hopes New Zealanders get behind the special draw, but also reminds Lotto players that, just as it only takes one ticket to win­, it only takes one ticket to help.

"As always, we encourage New Zealanders to enjoy playing our games and to get behind a very important cause, but to spend only what they can afford."

Internal Affairs Minister Barbara Edmonds said the Cyclone Gabrielle Appeal will be overseen by a Charitable Trust with Department of Internal Affairs chief executive Paul James, former mayor of Napier Barbara Arnott, and chairman of Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou Selwyn Parata as the Trustees.

"Our goal with the fund is to reduce uncertainty for communities by offering long-term support. Through government backing of the appeal, we are ensuring there is a secure well-governed structure to administer donations and oversee the distribution of funds," Edmonds said.

"The appeal will also complement the outstanding work Red Cross, mayoral relief funds, corporate partners and local fundraisers have done in raising money to help deal with the immediate response."

Also at his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, Hipkins said the new Extreme Weather Response Committee met for the first time. 

The national state of emergency will continue, particularly for Tairāwhiti and Hawke's Bay, he said. For other regions, the Government will look to move them to a national transition phase, and that could be in as early as a few days' time, Hipkins said.

He said the response efforts over the past week continue to track positively, with the number of households without power now at about 2900, most of which are in and around Napier. Additionally, when Cyclone Gabrielle first hit, 296 schools and 477 early childhood education centres were closed. Now it's just 25 schools and 62 early childhood centres that are shut, almost all of which are in Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti.

The death toll still stands at 11 and the number of people not accounted for is down to five.