South Waikato helps cyclone-hit areas
South Waikato helps cyclone-hit areas
Baby formula, trucking services, and men with muscles were just some of the essential items that businesses across the South Waikato region have flown to Hawke’s Bay after it was severely hit by Cyclone Gabrielle.
South Waikato locals joined forces to deliver essential items to Hawke’s Bay to help those who lost everything in the cyclone. This was made easier thanks to Tokoroa born and bred locals Rebekah Garner, who runs The Event Girl, helping to rally other businesses for donation drop-off points and courier driver Daniel Patterson, who dressed as Spider-Man to ensure the donations made it safely from Tokoroa to Rotorua, where they were then put on an aeroplane and flown to help those in need.
South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT) chief executive Amanda Hema was proud to see the region coming together and helping others. “It’s so great to see South Waikato stepping up and helping those affected by the Cyclone after the devastation it has caused.”
Rebekah Garner is known for leading the charge in times of emergency. “As soon as the cyclone happened, people were reaching out asking me how they could help,” she said.
The Event Girl, Ray White, Westpac, Muscle & Curve Fitness Centre, and Tīrau Earthmovers did their own call outs and created drop-off points for the community to leave donations. Daniel then collected the donations and dropped them in Rotorua to ready to be packed and shipped.
“I had a friend on the ground who I knew through the event industry and I asked her what the most important things they needed was,” said Rebekah.
Nappies, sanitary items, towels, blankets and food were requested, and businesses across the region went above and beyond to help those affected with local charitable trust Transform Aotearoa even sending down a group of strong men who helped clean up a vineyard in the Hawke’s Bay.
Another South Waikato business who helped provide relief and recovery to Hawke’s Bay following the aftermath of the cyclone was Waratah NZ, a company who has served the global forestry industry for 50 years through their parent company Deere & Company, who donated an astonishing US$50,000 (equivalent to approximately NZ$80,000) to the New Zealand Red Cross headquartered in Rotorua.
In times of crisis, Deere & Company is committed to financially supporting communities who are affected by disasters like Cyclone Gabrielle.
Tīrau Earthmovers Limited was another business keen to get their hands dirty, opening its yard as drop of point for donations, and was overwhelmed by the response from the community.
“For days our smoko room was a busy hive of people dropping things off and we had our staff sorting through it,” said Casey Ensor who runs the Administration and Sales at Tīrau Earthmovers.
“While we were gathering donations, a couple of our drivers transported a few loads of donated conventional hay bales and silage bales to farmers in need,” she said.
In late February, the team then sent a curtainsider donated by Earthmover Tyre Services Limited, filled with donations and six members of their team who headed directly to the affected areas.
“Our team stayed for four days, helping where they could and putting their skills to good use, including jumping on machinery with Dodge Contracting Limited from Hastings. It was a real eye opener for them all – you can’t quite comprehend the devastation until you witness it first-hand,” explained Casey.
Forest & Earthmovers also contributed time and gear to assist with the clean-up in Hawke’s Bay, making several trips.
“It was incredible to see the support and generosity from our community, it was quite emotional walking into that smoko room every day seeing the donations grow,” Casey said.
Courier driver Daniel had a connection with the team at Rotorua Whakaora who were already sending donations to the East Coast on every mode of transport.
“I started carting over local donations from Tokoroa to Rotorua with my friend Xanthe to get them on either a truck, a van, or in the air,” said Daniel.
“Daniel and Xanthe came and filled the vans up with everything we had, and took it to Rotorua where it went on a plane and was then handed out to the people who needed it in the most – people who were missed and cut-off, or places helicopters hadn’t seen yet,” said Rebekah.
“No matter how little people have, this community will give the t-shirt they are wearing.”
“We were inundated with brand new items, it was an incredible response,” Rebekah said. “Helping people aligns with their values and it’s what they do.”