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Commemoration services in Waipawa and Pōrangahau on Cyclone anniversary

Cyclone banner for media release

Wednesday 14 February 2024 marks one year since Cyclone Gabrielle hit Central Hawke’s Bay - one of the worst storms to hit Aotearoa New Zealand in living history. To mark the anniversary, two community gatherings will be held in Central Hawke’s Bay, one at Waipawa Primary School and one at Pōrangahau Memorial Hall.

Both events will start at 11.00am on Wednesday 14 February and will include a minute’s silence at 12pm, which will be at the same time across Te Matau a Maui Hawke’s Bay at other events in the region.

Community and mana whenua have been involved in putting together these events to include karakia, waiata, speeches, kai, reflections, thank yous, and symbols of remembrance including tree planting. All community members, emergency services, volunteers and support organisations are welcome.

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor, Alex Walker, says both gatherings provide an opportunity for the community to come together, reflect and look ahead with hope and renewed commitment to building back stronger.

“Cyclone Gabrielle caused deep loss here in Tamatea Central Hawke’s Bay. Whānau have lost loved ones and people's lives, livelihoods, homes, farms and communities have been impacted forever.

“Today, there are till 130 properties in the village of Pōrangahau who are in the very uncertain “Category 2a” where it is not clear what future flood protection works are possible and these whānau are living day-to-day with the future of their homes, businesses and community in the hands of councils and government. Their beautiful mārae – Rongomaraeroa – still has their marakai facilities closed, and their kaumatua flats are sitting broken and empty. There are still families across both towns who are in temporary accommodation, are waiting for insurance or building work, and are still dealing with the stress every day.

“We also till have a long way to go with our roading network. We have about $129 million worth of damage that is yet to receive funding and that means many in our community are still causing delays or detours that they have to navigate as they go about their daily lives.

“But the resilience, grit, spirit and determination that has pulled our community together over the past year has been amazing. They evacuated themselves, have coordinated themselves with council support, and are now rebuilding themselves – hand in hand with the recovery teams of council and iwi. And are all looking at the opportunities that this experience brings us.

“In 2024, this optimism and community spirit will take us forward, through what is going to be a challenging economic chapter in our story, but one that is focused on building back better, stronger and more resilient.”

At each event and across the region, people are invited to unify for a minute's silence at midday and to dress in Hawke's Bay's colours – black and white.

Central Hawke's Bay District Council has been working with Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Hastings District Council, Napier City Council and Wairoa District Council to acknowledge the significance of the anniversary. For information about the events in these districts, including others organised by community groups, please go to


1 February 2024

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