Wairarapa MP and Minister of Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty said he was struck by the determination and positive outlook of Wairarapa communities hit by Cyclone Gabrielle.
McAnulty visited one of Wairarapa’s worst-hit towns, Tinui, on Saturday.
He said his visit left him confident that the region would get through the storm and recover.
“What struck me is that although the flood water had died down, it was very clear on the way out how high the water had been.
“Even though I was seeing it with my own eyes, I couldn’t quite believe it,” he said.
Joining Masterton Mayor Gary Caffell and Emergency Operations Centre controller Steve May, McAnuty took to the streets of Tinui to speak with locals and see the damage for himself.
“I was pretty determined to get out there because it was on my mind that, as Minister, I was required to go to the areas that were worst affected, such as Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, but I really wanted to come home as well and see first hand the damage locally. McAnulty said that from the East Cape to the coast of South Wairarapa, the entire east coast of the North Island had suffered significant damage.
McAnulty said he spoke to people who had come in from Masterton to help clean up Tinui, Rural Support Trust Wairarapa, and farmers that had been impacted.
He said the community seemed grateful for the support that was being provided and especially happy to have the New Zealand Defence Force lend a hand.
“I thought it was quite poignant to have the army in Tinui, given Tinui’s significance as [holding] the first Anzac service.”
McAnuty said what he saw in Tinui and parts of Tararua mirrored some of the destruction he had seen in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.
“There are parallels, it might not be to the same degree, but it’s really painful for people.”
He said while he had seen destruction and despair in affected communities, he also saw a lot of hope and determination.
McAnulty said Tinui’s locals were empathetic towards people in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, despite also being devastated by the storm.
He said that attitude was a testament to the character of Tinui’s people, but also the wider Wairarapa region lending a hand to other damaged communities.
McAnulty said as a local MP and Minister of Civil Defence, it was reassuring to see the amount of work that locals and civil defence had put in.
He said he had come home to Wairarapa, planning to listen to concerns and do what he could to help, but it seemed that the community had already received much of the support it needed.
“My heart goes out to those that were affected. Obviously, the farms are going to take a while to recover.”