• Video: Iwi leader says Cyclone Gabrielle's devastation has been sunk into his memory forever

Video: Iwi leader says Cyclone Gabrielle's devastation has been sunk into his memory forever


The extent of the destruction of Cyclone Gabrielle has been sunk into his memory forever, says Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Executive Chair Bayden Barber.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I don't think many of us had seen anything like it, the extent of the devastation. So yeah, I mean, it's sunk into my memory forever seeing that type of devastation across the region.”

Speaking to Hawke’s Bay App one year on from the Cyclone, Barber says the extent of the force of nature that was Gabrielle was only appreciated in the months that followed.

“It's been a tough year for our region, but we're a pretty tough brand of people here in Te Matau-a-Maui, Hawke's Bay, and so we will get through it.”

“The most impacted parts of our rohe were Tangoio, Petāne. And what I saw out there was like you were walking on the moon, everything was flattened. That marae especially was covered in silt and had been water earlier in the morning.”

Barber says a number of Māori communities were affected.

“I went out to all of them. , I got up on the first chopper so I could get up to Wairoa, shot down to Pōrangahau on the truck, and that was the only way you could get through. And we had food loaded up on the truck.”

“Then, Omahu and Waiohiki and Tangoio, Petāne So it was just unbelievable. Totally unbelievable. I've lived through a big flood here at home not too long ago, but that was something next level.”

He acknowledges that there is still quite a bit of work to be done at Tangoio.

“Hōri Reti, the chair, he's been knee-deep in cleaning the silt, so he's been part of the cleanup. The good thing about it is, a lot of their people have been employed and are learning how to drive diggers and earth movers and all those things, so it's all their own people.”

“A lot of young people that may probably have been unemployed, so they're getting on-the-job training, so to speak, cleaning up their own whenua, cleaning up their own marae, which is great.”

“But there's still a shortage of housing for a lot of those whanau out there, and that's the same with all of those Māori communities that were hit. We've been working hard to house them in temporary housing, cabins and small one-two bedders. We've landed about 80 out of the 100. So yeah, it's a big job.”

Barber says that even though people have been through a tough time, they have to realise that there is hope.

“There's always hope. We need to look forward with hope. We've got a new government that they're talking, that they're all about action, and let's put that to the test because we want to see a bit more action in terms of the recovery and the rebuild.”

“But there's always hope. And just to hang in there, I know it's been tough, a real tough year for many of our community, but we've had a great summer, we've had more sunshine than we've ever had, so that's a good sign for a good 2024.”

Watch the accompanying video to see the full interview with Bayden Barber.