15 Feb 2023

Cyclone Gabrielle: Aotea Great Barrier cleans up after storm

From Checkpoint, 6:35 pm on 15 February 2023

Roads on Aotea / Great Barrier Island have taken "a hammering" thanks to the cyclone, the community board chair says. 

The small community is in clean-up mode, after being in the eye of the storm on Monday.

Board chair Izzy Fordham said the island's roading had taken "a hiding". 

However, she was grateful nobody lost their lives or their properties, she said. 

"It's our roading infrastructure that has really taken a hammering."

Some roads had collapsed and others had been damaged by major slips, Fordham said. 

A contractor has a roading team based on the island and an operations manager has arrived to make assessments with an engineer on their way later in the week. 

The island has three wharves and the access road to the main freight one, Shoal Bay / Tryphena,  cannot be used by heavy trucks. For the second one at Fitzroy the road was also unsafe for heavy traffic, Fordham said. 

The access to the third one was "a little bit dodgy", she said, although there were plans in place to manage.

As far as supplies were concerned, stores and welfare centres were still well-stocked. 

More freight will be arriving tomorrow via the Whangaparapara wharf. 

The island was in recovery mode. It had lost some mature trees, including pohutakawakawa. 

Aircraft have resumed flights today for the first time since Saturday bringing in freight such as mail and medical supplies. 

"So we are well and truly bouncing back as a community." 

Great Barrier island has fared better than many other isolated spots when it came to power, water and communications. 

The island has alternative energy sources as it is off the grid and everyone has their own power supply and water while the mobile and landline networks have held up well in most areas, she said. 

Barge stuck on the rocks behind a B&B on Great Barrier Island.

Barge stuck on the rocks behind a B&B on Great Barrier Island. Photo: Supplied / Tryphena House