Cyclone Gabrielle: Water, power issues continue to plague lower North Island

4:12 pm on 20 February 2023
Severe damage from Cyclone Gabrielle on the road through Marainanga Gorge to Ākito, on the coast east of Dannevirke.

Severe damage on the road through Marainanga Gorge to Ākito, on the coast east of Dannevirke. from Cyclone Gabrielle. Photo: Supplied

Boil water notices remain in place in Pongaroa and Ākitio as the Tararua District continues to recover from Cyclone Gabrielle.

In Dannevirke, residents are being encouraged to minimise water use while the Tamaki River remains turbid.

Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Council group recovery manager Dr Jon Roygard said a number of properties in the Tararua were still without power, and even more without cell coverage.

"Welfare checks are being done on a grid approach, with an area selected on a map and every property in it visited to ensure people are safe and have what they need."

The council had also sent trained 4WD drivers to Tararua to help with the effort to connect with people in remote areas.

"We remain ready to respond to any requests for help from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)," Roygard said.

"Boil water notices remain in place in Pongaroa and Ākitio, while Dannevirke residents are encouraged to minimise use while the Tamaki River remains turbid."

Horizons Regional Council also provided 20 staff to support the recovery in Hawke's Bay.

Roygard said in regards to the rest of the Manawatū-Whanganui region, Horizons was in regular contact with the Rural Coordination Group to support impacted communities.

"We'd like to acknowledge the great work rural community and industry groups are doing in this space."

He said Horizons staff had also been assessing stopbanks as water levels have dropped.

"While the majority of the network held up well, the Pohangina River has multiple sites requiring repair, as well as sections of the Rangitīkei and Ōroua rivers. We will also be doing future aerial assessments of the Manawatū, Ōroua, Rangitīkei and Pohangina rivers, as well as Tararua waterways, this week," Roygard said.

"The work on the Manawatū River near Te Matai Road, which was being done to prevent erosion and improve resilience, held up well aside from some scour and erosion. Contractors returned to the site on Monday to undertake repairs and continue placing protective rock.

"We are also working to get resources into the Tararua District to help with repairs on river management infrastructure in the hardest hit part of the region. Landowners who see river management damage on their properties can register this with us via

"Some river monitoring equipment in Tararua was damaged during Cyclone Gabrielle. We plan to have this up and running again by the middle of the week."

Roygard said offers of help and donations from the public had been generous and appreciated.

"However, the message from NEMA remains that monetary donations through relief funds are preferred.

"The Hawke's Bay Emergency Management Group has also clearly indicated any donations of this kind are to go through established charities to avoid extra pressure going on those responding to the event."

Regulatory advice and welfare information is available at

Up-to-date information on river heights and rainfall is available via Horizons' 24-hour toll-free Waterline 0508 4 FLOOD or on the website.

Updates will also be posted to the Manawatū-Whanganui Civil Defence page. For weather forecasting, see []. For road closures, delays, and warnings use the NZTA site.

  • Keep up to date with advice from your local CDEM Group or from
  • Floodwaters may be full of sewage, chemicals and other hazardous materials and should be avoided as much as possible
  • Floodwater can carry bacteria that can contaminate food
  • Protect yourself when cleaning up flood water and mud by wearing a properly fitted P2- or N95-rated mask, goggles, gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and gumboots or work shoes
  • Throw away all food and drinking water that has come in contact with floodwater
  • Do not eat garden produce if the soil has been flooded
  • In power outages use torches instead of candles, and only use camp cookers and BBQs outdoors.
  • Conserve water where you are advised to
  • Check the location of pipes and cables before you dig; see Chorus' Before You Dig website and for all utilities
  • The best way to assist in the response is through financial donations and NOT through donated goods.

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