December 11, 2023

‘This is just the start’: Random acts of kindness as new wave of volunteers make pilgrimage to Hawke’s Bay

'This is just the start': Random acts of kindness as new wave of volunteers make pilgrimage to Hawke's Bay

A new wave of volunteers is needed in Hawke’s Bay to assist with flood damage.

Residents across Hawke’s Bay who’ve spent two weeks volunteering with the cyclone cleanup say they now need to get back to work.

The flood-affected area is in need of a new wave of helpers and on Friday many turned up from far and wide.

“At half past nine this morning a young man drove up, and I said hello, and he said I’ve just flown in from Raglan. I’m a builder with spades- I haven’t even asked his name yet!” resident Judi Smith said.

She and partner Ernie Williams were thrilled with the generosity of stranger Ed Johnstone from Raglan. 

The couple’s Puketapu is unliveable after the Tutaekuri River unleashed a torrent of water.

Large mahogany pieces of furniture have been tossed around as silt-laden floodwaters rushed through a metre high. 

But volunteer Ed Johnstone is getting stuck in. 

“It’s devastating these guys have lost everything, we didn’t really cop it that hard up north, so may as well come down and do what you can,” said Johnstone, from Raglan.

At Puketapu school, new donations and volunteers are coming out of the woodwork by the day.

“We’re caring, we’re sharing and between us all, we will get through it,” Puketapu School Principal Chris Fox told Newshub.

“He’s actually our unsung hero,” adds local parent Becs Smiley. 

Rox Tahuparae and his colleagues flagged the gym workout today. Helping here means more.  

“The council was happy to buy us the equipment for us to get in here and get it done so that was cool” Hawke’s Bay Emergency Assist Group member Rox Tahuparae said.

Newshub arrived at the Environment Centre charity as a ute-load of donated food, cleaning products and gumboots arrived from the Wanganui Collegiate community.

Volunteers like Michael and Roz have been here since Cyclone Gabrielle helping with the delivery of 3000 meals a day and supplies to 32 communities.

“It gets addictive, I don’t want to stop I love helping!” said Roz Stuart.

However, most volunteers have real jobs and they need to get back to them.

“We’ve got the next bit which is the rebuild this is just the start,” Environment Centre CEO Emma Horgen-Heke said.

In Tutira, it’s hard to keep up with the countless kind folk.

“Our local guys have been amazing fixing the roads” said Gill Kearney who had a list to thank as long as her arm.

They say it takes a village, but with this disaster hundreds more are now needed to pick up the mantle and help.

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