• Video: Soldier swam across river to join his unit's Cyclone Gabrielle rescue effort

Video: Soldier swam across river to join his unit's Cyclone Gabrielle rescue effort

Lance Corporal Aaron Marinus from the NZ Army’s 5/7 Infantry Battalion in Hawke's Bay was asleep in his Rissington home when Cyclone Gabrielle hit and he needed to join his unit – so he swam across a raging river.

One year on from the Cyclone, Marinus spoke to Hawke’s Bay App at a Cyclone Gabrielle Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Tōmoana Showgrounds last Sunday.

He says that unit was tasked with supplying communities with fuel, water and essential supplies. But first he had to get there.

“Obviously being at home and the weather at night was getting pretty hectic. We also had our apps that were going off and everyone was communicating between themselves saying that things are getting pretty hectic.”

“I live in Rissington myself. With the Rissington Bridge being destroyed as it was through the storm, there was no real way of getting across at that point. The community later did manage to get a boat going across, but at that time it wasn't ready yet. I just went across the river and then went up. And then I hitchhiked a ride really.”

Marinus says it has been good to see how far Hawke’s Bay has come since the Cyclone.

“Everything's really cleaned up. And just, I've got to say how close its brought our unit together, 5/7 here in the Hawke's Bay, how close we've actually become since.”

“Look, it wasn't just me, man. There was heaps of other people in the unit that did heaps of other extraordinary things too that could be probably talked about. And I dare say that the other people in the community as well, not just us in uniform. There was normal people doing extraordinary things every day as well.”

Watch the accompanying video to see the full interview with Lance Corporal Aaron Marinus.