Newshub travelled by water, road and land to get into some of Hawke’s Bay’s most cut-off communities on Tuesday.
What we found was a family lucky to be alive, but their livelihoods are totally buried.
Dartmoor, across the Tutaekuri River, is an isolated Hawke’s Bay community that’s been cut off for a week.
After making landfall, Newshub drove as far as anyone’s been able to get up Dartmoor Rd in a week. There’s now a new lake that engulfs the road and surrounding farmland.
With crucial bridges out, it’s the separation and inability to reach and help others the locals there battle with most.
“I just want to be there because they’ve got it worse than us, but we will be there when we can. We will be there,” said Dartmoor farmer Colin Campbell.
For now, the only way around is cross-country. On the other side is Ali Mackenzie’s decimated family farm buried by a metre of silt.
“Just pissing rain and you’re up to your chest in silt. It sounded like Huka Falls and not in a good way.”
The family, somehow, are all accounted for. The only loss of life was their stock, including a horse that got stuck and broke its leg.
“In [Cyclone] Bola it got to the gates. We are talking two metres higher than that, so this is unseen,” Mackenzie said.
This family operation is facing a rebuild from scratch.
“Eventually once I get my tractor out of water. It’s been in water for a week. We’ll get it started and try and get to work.”
The land they’ve lived on for generations is now buried beyond recognition. The only way through those waters is by excavator, which aren’t in high supply.
Their main source of frustration is a lack of access to critical supplies like fuel, gas, and medication.
Off the country roads, State Highway 5 to the west and State Highway 2 north remain impassable.
One section of Marshall’s Bridge has been completely washed out and is now a mixture of silt and slash that came screaming down the river. Waka Kotahi said they’re dealing with 30 slips – although those are only the ones they know about – in that area and along State Highway 2.
The clean-up is so massive that authorities simply can’t give timelines for public access.
“This is phenomenal, I’ve never seen anything like this before in my short lifetime. There’s just so much devastation across the whole network,” said Bradley Shanks, Waka Kotahi maintenance contract manager.