May 29, 2023

Watch: ‘Absolutely fantastic’ – Defence Force creates pulley system to provide supplies to cut off Hawke’s Bay town

Watch: The Defence Force has come up with a creative solution to provide supplies to cut off Hawke's Bay town.

The New Zealand Defence Force has come up with a creative solution to provide much-needed supplies to a cut off Hawke’s Bay town following Cyclone Gabrielle. 

The small community of Rissington, approximately 10km north-west of Napier, was cut off after floodwater destroyed the bridge south of the locality at the Mangaone River.

Members of the 2nd Engineer Regiment (2ER) established a pulley system capable of carrying 80kg loads over the river, ensuring the community could receive supplies.

The regiment was able to provide the community with gas, water and other supplies the town needed. 

The regiment also received assistance from a local jet boat owner to move combat engineers between the banks so they could clear out several hazardous trees and set up anchor points to reinforce the pulley system. 

Captain Ben Kimber of 2ER said it was hard to comprehend the scale of damage they’d seen. 

“It’s surreal. Seeing a whole bridge parked up on the side of a bank, five metres above the waterline, is quite eye-opening,” Kimber said. 

“We’ve seen silt pretty much all the way up to the roofs of houses, and houses completely moved off their foundations and moved downstream.”

Rissington resident Bruce Franklin this was the worst flooding the community had ever seen. 

“The scale of the damage is incredible. I’ve lived here 14 years but I’ve talked to some locals who have been here longer and they think 1963 was the last big event. The volume of water that came down, I still can’t fathom it,” Franklin said. 

“The locals have come out and done a lot of work. We’ve fared pretty well. The support here is absolutely fantastic, it’s humbling. But that community across the river, they haven’t got any other way out, really. They’re stuck there.”

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