May 29, 2023

Cyclone Gabrielle live: Five dead, fresh evacuation order issued in central Hawke’s Bay

Watch: The latest on Cyclone Gabrielle.

With Cyclone Gabrielle moving away from New Zealand, attention turns to the massive recovery effort with at least 10,500 people displaced, thousands sheltering in Civil Defence centres and around 144,000 properties still remaining without power. 

The death toll sits at five, including a child and volunteer firefighter, while police have “grave fears” for others.

Work is underway to get communication, food and water supplies to communities that have been completely cut off.

Official Government advice:

  • Severe impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle are now being seen across the upper North Island
  • If it is safe to do so, stay at home. Avoid all non-essential travel
  • Have an evacuation plan in case your home becomes unsafe to stay in
  • If you have evacuated, please stay where you are until you are given the all-clear to go home
  • Stay away from floodwater and never drive through floodwaters.
  • Check in on neighbours and family members if it is safe to do so
  • Please stay up to date with the forecasts from MetService and continue to follow the advice of civil defence and emergency services.Advice on how to get prepared, including in te reo Māori, is at
  • Call 111 if you feel in any danger. Stay safe – don’t take any chances.

What else you need to know:

  • The Government has declared a national state of emergency
  • Tens of thousands of people across the Far North, Northland, Auckland, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay are without power. Civil Defence says it could be “up to a week” before power is fully restored in Hawke’s Bay
  • Severe thunderstorm watches are in place for Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Taupō, Rotorua and Bay of Plenty on Thursday
  • Residents in Gisborne and parts of central Hawke’s Bay are being told to urgently conserve water
  • Nine-thousand people are displaced in Hawke’s Bay alone, the Government says
  • Some communities on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula are cut off.

Useful websites: 

  • Civil Defence centres and shelters are open in Auckland. A list of where they are is here.
  • If you need help and support during the emergency, visit the Auckland Emergency Management website.
  • For a list of disruptions to services and facilities, visit the Interruptions to Service and Facilities page on the Auckland Council website
  • For the latest on MetService’s weather warnings, click here
  • For more information on power outages in Auckland check here: Vector –, Counties Energy –
  • For power in Northland click here or the Far North click here
  • For public transport information visit Auckland Transport here
  • For nationwide road and travel updates visit here
  • To register a person who you have safety concerns for click here

Follow Newshub’s live updates below. App users – click here for the latest.

10:50am – MetService is warning of more wet weather on Thursday as Cyclone Gabrielle moves away from New Zealand.

10:30am – Slow but steady progress is being made restoring power to the cyclone-battered East Coast. 

State energy firm Transpower said despite major setbacks, officials have gained access to Redclyffe substation near Taradale .

Floodwaters exceeded 1.5m inside the control room. 

There are 40,800 homes still without power in Hawke’s Bay – 31,700 of which are in Napier.

“We recognise the significant impact that this loss of power has on people affected in the region, our thoughts are with them and we thank them for their patience,” Transpower said. “We assure them that our people are continuing to work tirelessly with local lines companies to get as much power restored into the area as quickly as possible.”

10:23am – Five people have been arrested after burglaries at commercial premises in Napier overnight, police say.

10:12am – Residents of Drumpeel Rd in central Hawke’s Bay’s Ōtāne are being told to evacuate immediately.

Meanwhile, Civil Defence says it’s urgently trying to establish contact with cut-off Wairoa.

10:07am – Civil Defence says it’s going to be “up to a week” before power is fully restored to Hawke’s Bay.

10:03am – The NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi has provided the below update on the Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay highway network:

  • SH35 between Hicks Bay and Gisborne CLOSED
  • SH2 between Ōpōtiki and Gisborne and then Gisborne to Napier CLOSED
  • SH51 between Napier and Hastings OPEN under 30km/h speed restrictions
  • SH2 between Napier and Hastings (Ngaruroro Bridge) CLOSED
  • SH5 between Napier and Taupō CLOSED
  • SH51 between Napier and Elwood Rds CLOSED
  • SH50 Expressway between Napier and the Taradale turnoff CLOSED
  • SH50 between Takapau and Hastings CLOSED
  • SH50 at Fernhill (Ngaruroro Rover Bridge)  CLOSED

9:49am – Prince William and Princess Kate have issued a touching message for New Zealanders devastated by the flooding.

“We are thinking of all the communities who have been affected by the devastating weather events in Aotearoa New Zealand,” the couple said in a statement on their official Twitter account.

“As ever, we are in awe of the valiant efforts of emergency responders risking their lives to help those in danger.

“Kia haumaru koutou katoa.”

9:45am – Earlier, Napier MP Stuart Nash told AM’s Ryan Bridge he’s extremely concerned about the weather forecast.

Storm-like conditions are set to sweep through Tauranga, down to the East Cape and the northern end of Hawke’s Bay between 3pm and 10pm on Thursday.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in place.

9:30am – Civil Defence, Mayors and other emergency officials are holding a media stand up in Hastings at 10am. You can watch that live on Three, ThreeNow or in the video above.

9:24am – Hawke’s Bay Airport has provided the below update:

The airport is still open and helping to support travellers and locals alike.

If you want to know what the latest flights scheduled is, go here.

Some roads between Hastings and Napier are now open but for essential travel only, so travel only if it’s absolutely necessary and plan ahead.

9:13am – Napier MP Stuart Nash has told AM he believes warnings of no power for two weeks in the city are “over the top”.

9am – Multiple health services across Hawke’s Bay are being cancelled over the course of Thursday and Friday.

All elective surgeries, endoscopy services and outpatient appointments will need to be rescheduled as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Te Whatu Ora/Health New Zealand said three acute theatres will continue operating in Hastings – allowing emergency c-sections and cancer surgeries to continue.

Members of the public looking for missing family members are being urged to stay away from the emergency department.

8:57am – The power is expected to be out in Napier for at least two weeks, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council says.

8:50am – State energy company Transpower provided the below update on Thursday morning:

Late yesterday we were able to gain access to our flooded Redclyffe substation near Taradale. An initial assessment indicates that there is extensive damage after flood waters reached heights exceeding 1.5 metres inside the control room.

Given the extensive damage and the likely time to repair the substation, our focus now is on creating a bypass for our 220KV line to enable it to connect to the Whakatu substation north-east of Hastings. We have been working with local lines company Unison on this bypass option and expect to be able to provide an update later today on when it will be completed.

Yesterday we were able to use a helicopter to assess more of the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on the national grid from the air and to get some of our staff and service providers into the area to start working on the bypass.

In addition to flooding at our Redclyffe substation, there has been extensive flooding at our Whirinaki substation north of Napier which supplies power solely to Pan Pac Forest Products Limited. It is also the entry point to the grid for generation from Contact Energy.

Access to this site is currently only by air.

During the flyover we also identified a tower that has fallen between our Redclyffe and Fernhill substations next to the Ngaruroro river near Fernhill. Due to the flooding at Redclyffe these lines are not live and the downed tower does not pose a safety risk or currently have an impact of supply power to consumers.

There are a number of towers that have slips in close proximity that we will be completing detailed inspections of in the coming days to ensure they are secure (there is no immediate risk).

Local lines company Unison Networks advise there are 40,800 homes without power in Hawke’s Bay, with 31,700 of these from Napier which is the area most impacted by the loss of the Redclyffe substation.

There continue to be logistical challenges in restoring power in the region as a result of damage to roading, significant debris and damaged communications networks. We are working closely with both NEMA and local Civil Defence agencies to get access to the resources we need.

We recognise the significant impact that this loss of power has on people affected in the region, our thoughts are with them, and we thank them for their patience. We assure them that our people are continuing to work tirelessly with local lines companies to get as much power restored into the area as quickly as possible.

8:45am – Below is an update from Te Whatu Ora/Health New Zealand Hawke’s Bay:

Health services cancelled in Hawke’s Bay for Thursday, February 16 and Friday, February 17:

  • Elective surgeries
  • Endoscopy services
  • Outpatient appointments in Napier, Hastings, Wairoa and Central Hawke’s Bay.

Affected patients are being contacted and offered a telehealth appointment if appropriate or rebooked as soon as possible.

Three acute theatres (including emergency c-sections and urgent cancer surgery) and radiology are operating at Hawke’s Bay Hospital in Hastings.

Te Whatu Ora acknowledges whānau will be concerned about the whereabouts of loved ones who may have been impacted by flooding but asks people do not come into the Hawke’s Bay emergency department unless seeking urgent medical care.

If you are going to run out of medication in the next two days, pharmacies can dispense a small emergency supply without a prescription. If possible, this should be from your normal pharmacy.

Please don’t go to the emergency department for your medication.

Urgent clinics open

  • City Medical at Napier Health Centre is open (24 hours)
  • Urgent care clinic at Hastings Health Centre (until 7pm on Thursday)

General practices

Power outages have caused communication barriers but below are the general practices we’ve been able to reach and confirm are open. (Note: some general practices are operating in constrained environments and are offering variable hours and services).


  • Maraenui Medical Centre (10-12pm)
  • Taradale Medical Centre (9am-midday)
  • Greendale Medical Centre
  • Carlyle Medical Centre (limited hours)


  • Medical and Injury in Hastings is also open
  • The Doctors Hastings
  • Totara Hastings
  • Totara Flaxmere
  • The Doctors Gascoigne
  • Hauora Heretaunga


  • Tukituki Medical Centre
  • The Doctors Waipawa
  • Patients who need further care will be transferred to Hawke’s Bay Hospital.


  • Most pharmacies in Hastings are open including:
  • Hastings Health Centre pharmacy
  • Unichem Russell Street Pharmacy at The Doctors Hastings
  • Bay Plaza Pharmacy Hastings
  • Gilmours Havelock North Pharmacy in Havelock North
  • Flaxmere Pharmacy
  • Denton’s Pharmacy in Havelock North
  • Taiwhenau Pharmacy within Hauora Heretaunga
  • Care Pharmacy at Totara Health
  • Countdown Pharmacy open
  • Whittakers Havelock North
  • Parkvale Pharmacy
  • Life Pharmacy Hastings
  • Unichem Stortford Lodge

Pharmacies in Napier open include:

  • Napier Health Centre pharmacy
  • Unichem on Munroe Street at The Doctors Napier
  • Greenmeadows Pharmacy at The Doctors Greenmeadows
  • Glenn’s Pharmacy
  • In Central Hawke’s Bay, Unichem Waipukurau and Waipawa Pharmacy are open.

Pain clinic open in Hastings for 0 to 8-year-olds

If you have a child in pain, please contact the Hastings Central Dental Clinic which is providing a relief of pain clinic between 8am and4:30pm. Please call 06 873 4860.

8:43am – Auckland power authority Vector says 16,000 households and businesses remain without power in the region, down from 25,000 on Wednesday.

“Blocked roads, caused by fallen trees and slips, continues to be a key challenge and are preventing our crews from accessing sites. We are working closely with authorities to get access to these areas as soon as possible,” Vector said on Thursday morning.

“Yesterday, we sent a helicopter up to assess the damage in those hard-to-reach areas. Our teams are currently reviewing the footage and we’ll share more information about this when we can.

“We’d again like to remind people that although it’s forecast to be another sunny day, our teams are only just understanding and working through the full extent of the damage and being able to plan accordingly to make restoration and repairs for communities.”

8:30am – More rain could be on the way for the North Island, with a severe thunderstorm watch in place for Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Taupō, Rotorua and Bay of Plenty.

The storm-like conditions are set to sweep through Tauranga, down to the East Cape between 3pm and 10pm on Thursday.

MetService said any thunderstorms will be isolated but may bring localised downpours of between 25 and 40mm/h.

It’s feared the rain could bring further surface or flash flooding, making driving conditions hazardous.

8:15am – Supermarkets say they’re pulling out all stops to get stock back on the shelves in the most flood-affected areas. 

The majority of Foodstuffs supermarkets, including Pak’nSave and New World, are now trading. However, essential items will still be prioritised in some places. 

Foodstuffs chief executive Chris Quin told AM most stores have two days worth of stock, which has already started being replenished.

7:59am – A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay as well as Taupō, Rotorua and Bay of Plenty.

“An upper trough crosses the North Island this afternoon and evening, generating very unstable conditions over northern and central parts of the North Island with scattered thunderstorms bringing localised heavy rain and hail,” MetService said on Thursday morning.

“Between 3pm and 10pm… a few of the thunderstorms could be SEVERE about Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, eastern Taupō, the ranges of Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, and Gisborne north of Tolaga Bay, with localised downpours of 25 to 40mm per hour and hail.

“Rainfall of this intensity can cause surface and/or flash flooding, especially about low-lying areas such as streams, rivers or narrow valleys, and may also lead to slips. Driving conditions will also be hazardous with surface flooding and poor visibility in heavy rain.”

7:45am – In central Hawke’s Bay, water sources have been restored for many in Waipawa, Waipukarau and Ōtāne.

But Mayor Alex Walker told AM the water needs to be boiled and warned not everyone will have access to it.

7:40am – The copious amounts of rain over the past few days have made the majority of Auckland beaches unsafe to swim in.

Nearly 40 beaches across Auckland have been black-marked on the council’s Safeswim website. You can see them here.

7:30am – Joe Faram, a helicopter pilot rescuing people in Hawke’s Bay, is certain the death toll will rise further after Cyclone Gabrielle.

On the East Coast, 1400 people are still uncontactable – many of whom will be safe but the true toll on life is still unknown.

Faram told AM he was still finding people stranded on Wednesday afternoon.

7:15am – Dargaville residents aren’t in the clear just yet, with high tide still looming.

Fresh evacuations took place on Wednesday night, with an increased threat of flooding from 9am on Thursday.

Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson told AM he’s hoping the evacuations will turn out to be precautionary.

7am – Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will get a first hand look at the devastation in Gisborne on Thursday.

The HMNZS Manawanui is also expected to reach the region on Thursday morning, carrying crucial resources.

Thousands are still displaced across Tairāwhiti and water, fuel and food supplies are running low. 

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz told AM the arrival of Manawanui is desperately needed.

6:45am – Below is MetService’s short forecast for Thursday:

Northern half of the North Island from Taumarunui and Taupō northwards, including Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay

Isolated showers becoming widespread from Thursday afternoon, with thunderstorms and localised downpours possible, especially Bay of Plenty and the ranges of Gisborne and northern Hawke’s Bay.

Taranaki and Taihape to Wellington, also Wairarapa

Rain spreading north on Thursday morning, with heavy falls possible about Wellington and Wairarapa, then easing in the evening.

Nelson and Buller

Cloudy periods. A few showers, mainly about the ranges, possibly heavy on Thursday afternoon.

Marlborough and Canterbury

Periods of rain, mainly north of Christchurch, with some heavy falls about Marlborough. Rain easing on Thursday morning and clearing for most in the afternoon.

Westland and Fiordland

Fine weather.

Otago and Southland

Morning cloud with some drizzle but staying dry about central Otago.

Chatham Islands

Low cloud with occasional rain.

6:37am – Farmers are having to dump their milk throughout the Coromandel as tankers can’t get to them due to extensive road closures in the region. 

The Transport Minister spoke exclusively to Newshub after surveying the roading network on a helicopter, describing the damage he saw as “extreme”.

Ashleigh Yates reports.

6:30am – Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will get a first hand look at the devastation in Gisborne on Thursday while he’s continuing to make every attempt to visit the Hawke’s Bay region. 

The HMNZS Manawanui is also expected to reach Gisborne at first light, carrying crucial supplies for the region. 

Hawke’s Bay will also receive further assistance, with the HMNZS Te Mana expected to arrive in the region later on Thursday.

The two regions are among the worst hit from Cyclone Gabrielle with thousands still displaced and running out of essentials.

More than 700 Defence Force personnel are now involved in relief efforts.

6:11am – The death toll from Cyclone Gabrielle has risen to five, with a person in Tairāwhiti/Gisborne believed to have died after getting caught in floodwaters, police said on Thursday morning.

An investigation is underway into the death and police said further information will be provided when it becomes available.

6:06am – AM will have the latest on Cyclone Gabrielle. You can watch the show here.

6:02am – Dunne says volunteers and emergency response workers have been hard-working, determined, dedicated and showing real community sacrifice. 

“The thing about it all, these very people themselves are also going through the same stresses and strains, their houses are at risk, and their neighbours, friends and neighbourhoods have been damaged as well,” he said. 

“So it’s a remarkable tribute to their self-sacrifice, but their determination is paramount.    

5:56am – Political commentator and former United Future leader Peter Dunne told AM Early the response from volunteers to Cyclone Gabrielle has been “fantastic”

“I think however well planned and organised you are, an event of this catastrophic intensity can never be predicted entirely,” he said. 

“They have been noble, they have been smart. I obviously pay my sincerest sympathies to the family of the volunteer firefighter at Muriwai who was so tragically killed, but in a way that is an example of the selfless behaviour of the volunteers and all the emergency response workers through this very difficult time.”

5:25am – Counties Energy has restored power to around 1000 properties in Auckland and there are approximately 990 more in the region currently without power.   

Five hundred of the properties restored were in the Awhitu Peninsula, an area that suffered many landslips and trees falling on lines. Around 400 properties remain without power in this area.

“We understand that these customers have been without power for over 48 hours and thank them for their patience and understanding as we work to restore power as quickly and safely as we can,” Counties Energy said in a statement on Wednesday night.

“To restore the majority of these customers tomorrow a difficult construction job on the corner of Hamilton Rd and Manukau Heads Rd has been prioritised for the morning.”

“There are still some prolonged outages that crews will be unable to restore even as we head into tomorrow night and customers should prepare for this.”

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