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Reflecting on Cyclone Gabrielle

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Today, as we reflect on the first anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle, I look back with sadness for what our people and our land have been through, but also with pride when I look at how our community responded to this enormous disaster.

In Wairoa, our scars remain raw, and rebuilding is challenging.

Per capita, Wairoa was the most impacted community of Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay and the most isolated.

We still have over one hundred yellow-stickered homes, hundreds of displaced whānau, and a tremendous amount of work to be done to return people to their homes and restore our district.

Getting our whānau back into their homes remains the priority; in some cases, many hurdles must be navigated to achieve this.

We need a flood mitigation scheme in place so we can take our Land Categorisation 2A properties to 2C and 1, and so we can manage future flood events in the best way possible. Flood mitigation is not a silver bullet, and we will never beat Mother Nature, but we can try to lessen the impacts.

Whānau also face financial and insurance challenges, and through our Recovery Office, we are trying to assist where we can.

Wairoa’s strength is its community, and I acknowledge all those people who are supporting our journey to recovery. Thank you to everyone who has helped us.

Today is a time to reflect, remember and learn from the past while also moving forward and acknowledging the progress that has been made.

A series of commemorative events are planned for today to assist our community in coming together, uniting, and being one. I look forward to seeing you there.

14 February 2024

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