Cyclone Gabrielle passed over the country earlier this week bringing a lot of havoc and destruction. We didn’t escape it’s wrath, but compared to many, we were very lucky.

The biggest problem for us came at the tail end of the storm when we lost our power for 52 hours. But we also had a little damage to our trees, and our fridge died.

I feel like I have both experienced my own trauma, as well as bared witness to the far greater traumas being experienced in harder-hit regions. For me, it has been stressful. But it’s hard to acknowledge my own problems without also acknowledging that many people lost everything.

Despite the stress and trauma we experienced ourselves this week, we are lucky.

I don’t really want to just list the (comparatively very minor) things that happened, or what I wish I’d done to prepare (though I have drafted both versions of those blogs).

I just want to reflect on what I’m grateful for.


I know nothing about small machines. I don’t even know how to start most of the small machines we use here. But you know what you need when a tree falls down or your power goes out? A chainsaw and a generator.

The man went out in a storm at 6am to clear out a generator so I could have a morning coffee. Absolute superstar.

All week we’ve driven around with a chainsaw in the back of the car. Tuned and gassed up, ready to go. And we’ve used it. We’ve cut down 5 trees so far.

Of course it’s not just his professional skills I appreciate him for, but they were really bloody handy this week.

This place

I’m not going to lie. I looked for property with ocean inundation, flooding, and summer tropical cyclones in mind. They were actually my top priorities.

I refused most of the properties in our search purely on these grounds. And I recognised a lot of the advantages of this particular place very early on. We were lucky, but we were also smart.

For the most part, we held up well. The southerly winds slammed us and a few small trees fell over as a result, but that was pretty much the worst damage on the property. I guess better they fall over now than in 5 years.

Otherwise we are protected from the easterly winds by geography, and we have a well-functioning series of drainage routes for heavy rain. We are elevated away from flood hazards. So far, this place is proving safe when stress-tested.

The one thing I could only ever hope for when we purchased is a set of good neighbours to share it with. They have lent us space in their freezer and the group chat went wild when the power came back on. There is a lovely small community forming here and it’s so incredible to have.

Functional, hard-working local government

I’m going to fangirl out for a moment and just say I love our mayor and our deputy mayor. In last year’s elections the Far North elected Moko Tepania as mayor, and he appointed Kelly Stratford as his deputy.

They’re both superstars. Their support teams must be legends. They have worked their butts off since being elected and this week has been no exception. I realise it’s a bit dorky to be a fan of our mayor, but honestly. It’s hard not to be.

To everyone in my local government working on the emergency response – thank you. You’re amazing and doing a fantastic job.

We’ve been well-informed and kept safe through more than one major storm this summer. I’m so grateful to have these people working for our community.

The workers

You know who I go to when I want to know what’s going on? Dannielle at the Kaeo Four Square. Talking to the people working at our dairies, hardware stores, and petrol stations is how information spread when the communications channels died. Everyone talks to them, so they are the People Who Know Things.

There’s also the repair-people and emergency services. Slips, downed-trees, power-outages, lost roofs, communications-outages… there’s so many people out doing really important work. Many of whom are facing their own personal crises at home while they’re out fixing our infrastructure. They started in the absolute worst of conditions and they’re still out there, cleaning up.

To the ordinary people who have got out and got on with it – you are the absolute heroes of the day.

You are showing up, working hard. I see it, and it’s hard to find the words to explain just how much you matter. We’d all be screwed without your service and dedication.

But for the grace of God…

My heart absolutely goes out to those in areas more heavily affected than my own. Wairoa, Gisborne, and Napier are all places that I know quite well. The absolute carnage is just incredible.

I know what it means to plant an orchard, to nurture my crops. To lose a crop so close to harvest is an utterly heartbreaking experience. To lose the plants and years of hard work associated with them – I can only imagine that to be devastating.

But beyond livelihoods, lives have been lost. And many more have been left standing with just the clothes on their back, cut off from clean water, electricity, internet, and food supplies. My heart goes out to you.

If you have the means and would like to donate to the cause, there are two links I’ll provide: several hapouri Māori fundraising pages are listed here at the Māori Language Commission. And GiveALittle have compiled this list of individual fundraisers for Gabrielle victims.

Both pages really put the level of devastation into perspective, as well as provide the money straight to the places it’s needed with minimal middle-men.