November 29, 2023

Cyclone Gabrielle: Police name five victims of disaster

Related video: A new wave of volunteers is needed in Hawke's Bay to assist with flood damage.

Police have named five of the 11 people who died after Cyclone Gabrielle.

They are 58-year-old Shona Leslie Wilson, 86-year-old Helen Street, 65-year-old George Charles Luke, 76-year-old Ian McKenzie McLauchlan and 43-year-old Brendan Lewis Miller.

Helen Street died at her home in Onekawa on Thursday February 16 “in circumstances related to Cyclone Gabrielle”, police said.

“Police’s thoughts and condolences are with Helen’s family and friends. Her death has been referred to the coroner,” a spokesperson said.

Shona Wilson died after a landslip hit her house in Tūtira – a farming community inland from Napier – on February 14.

Her partner Bill Chrystal and daughter Skye survived the terrifying experience but Wilson didn’t make it.

A Givealittle page has been set up to help the family who has limited insurance.

George Luke has also been named as a victim of Cyclone Gabrielle after he was caught in a slip and died in hospital on Thursday February 16.

He and partner Mau Goodman were returning to Hastings from Rotorua, where his son Issac Luke had helped coach the Māori All Stars when his car was hit by debris on the Taihape-Napier road.

Social media appeals and a search of the area eventually located the pair three days later, and they were flown to Hawke’s Bay Hospital at Hastings, where Luke Sr died. 

Luke Jr posted to Facebook saying he was “broken” by his loss.

“My first hero, Hori George Luke… see you soon, dad,” he wrote. “I love you.”

Ian McLauchlan was found dead in Waiohiki on Friday February 17 after Cyclone Gabrielle.

“Police’s thoughts and condolences are with Ian’s family and friends. His death has been referred to the coroner,” a police spokesperson said.

Brendan Miller has also been confirmed as one of the dead after he was found in Crownthorpe on Saturday February 18. It’s understood his vehicle was caught in floodwaters and washed away.

A Givealittle has been set up to help his wife and son.

“Brendan, a loving father, an engineer and small cattle farmer with Helen in Crownthorpe, Hastings, was the key financial provider for their son Henry of three-and-a-half-years of age,” it reads.

“Helen needs assistance to get her farm back into working order, which includes clearing the silt and debris, replacing fences and livestock. Plus, a bit of help to service the mortgage and put food on the table while they get back on their feet.”

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