12 Jan 2023

'Farmers are almost at their wits' end' - Cyclone recovery likely to be slow

9:35 pm on 12 January 2023
Wigan Bridge on Tauwhareparae Road out of Tolaga Bay, after Cyclone Hale's destruction.

Wigan Bridge on Tauwhareparae Road out of Tolaga Bay, after Cyclone Hale's destruction. Photo: murrycavephotography / Supplied / Tairāwhiti Civil Defence

The cleanup from Cyclone Hale is only just beginning - with the weather system causing damage from Northland and Coromandel on to Tairāwhiti, and down the North Island as far as Wairarapa.

The East Coast is hardest hit, with communities still cut off in Tairāwhiti, and local authorities working to find ways to get supplies to them.

State Highway 35 is closed north of Gisborne between Tolaga Bay and Ruatoria, and the Gladstone Road Bridge in the city centre will be closed overnight tonight and tomorrow as debris is cleared from under the bridge.

A state of emergency remains in place in the region.

Waka Kotahi National Journey Manager Helen Harris said in a statement today that Cyclone Hale is testing everyone.

"The welfare of people living near SH35 in particular, is our key concern. We understand how critical this highway is for getting food and supplies to whānau and towns."

State Highway 2 between Napier and Wairoa has reopened but motorists should take extra care with more slips possible.

And in Thames-Coromandel, Mayor Len Salt said the region is saturated and there are fears more slips may occur in the coming days.

In South Wairarapa, Cyclone Hale has isolated around 100 households.

Waka Kotahi continues to urge motorists to stay off affected roads. If they must travel, they should stay alert for unreported hazards and consult the Journey Planner website.

Community under pressure

A Tairāwhiti farmer says spirits are beginning to break as the region is yet again devastated by wild weather.

Cyclone Hale has ripped through the region, washing away roads, flooding houses, cutting power and isolating communities.

Toby Williams farms on the coast south of Tolaga Bay.

He said the damage is devastating with fencing flattened, crops destroyed and debris strewn across the land.

Williams said the community can't start cleaning up yet because many areas are completely flooded.

Williams said the tight-knit community is getting by and looking after each other, but this time around they're finding it especially tough.

"We always talk about how resilient we are on the East Coast and how we can sort of get through anything, but we're really starting to find now that farmers are almost at their wits' end.

"You know, you put your fences back up, and my neighbours have put the same fence back up four times now in the last 12 months."

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