New Zealand Cyclone Gabrielle recovery continues slowly


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New Zealand’s one-off cyclone lotto draw has raised $NZ11.7 million ($10.9 million) for Gabrielle recovery projects.

Saturday night’s lotto draw was staged after Gabrielle, the country’s worst storm in generations, ravaged much of the North Island last month, killing 11 people.

However, the “cyclotto” profits won’t make a dent in the overall cost of rebuilding key infrastructure, removing silt and helping Kiwis back on their feet, a cost which will run into the billions.

Last month, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced the cyclone lotto and an international appeal to assist with the recovery.

The appeal was modelled on the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, which raised more than $NZ94 million ($88 million) following the devastating 2011 earthquakes, which killed 185 people.

Three weeks on, the Gabrielle appeal total is $NZ830,000 ($770,000), suggesting private assistance may be hard to come by.

Internal Affairs Minister Barbara Edmonds said the millions of dollars raised from the lotto would “make a huge difference”.

“In a time of need, New Zealanders rally together to help each other. This is a fantastic effort,” she said.

“Every little bit helps and it has been humbling to see people continue to make donations and offers of assistance.”

The government is yet to formally estimate total costs involved in the clean-up.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the bill will land somewhere between the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake – or about $NZ3 billion ($2.8 billion) – and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake – more than $NZ17 billion ($15.9 billion).

A national state of emergency – which lasted 28 days – ended last week, with Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty saying it was now over to local communities to lead efforts.

“We are committed to a locally-led recovery, supported by central government,” he said.

Also on Monday, associate transport minister Kiri Allan announced the reopening of state highway 5 between Napier and Taupo – a key transport link.

“Restoring this connection is a milestone for the region following the devastating impact of Cyclone Gabrielle,” Ms Allan said.

The usually 100-minute journey had been replaced by a five-hour detour.

With major roads into Gisborne impacted, the government has also re-opened the regional centre’s port to help bring in supplies and take out produce that might otherwise go to waste.

Usually set up for export of logs, Eastland Port chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum said his team had been re-jigging the facility at pace.

“We’ve been on a hell of a steep learning curve. We’ve had a lot of support from other ports around New Zealand,” he told Radio NZ.

“The first shipment will be meat, about three (containers) … and the balance will be picking up squash that’s grown locally.”

Ms Allan said the government was funding and underwriting the port revamp with almost $NZ3 million ($2.8 million).

“This investment will respond to the critical need to get products – vegetables, meat, wool, timber and wine – out of Gisborne and to the market,” she said.

“This investment in the blue highway will also speed up recovery efforts, allowing for the swifter delivery of construction and rebuild materials into the East Coast.”


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