Wondering where all the silt came from, how badly the stopbanks were damaged and why, or what a 1-in-100 year flood actually means? Find the answers to these questions and more on silt, water quality, waste, our parks and trails in the section below.
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Hawke’s Bay Mayors and Chair have activated the Regional Disaster Relief Trust, making it easy for people from anywhere in New Zealand to donate to the region’s Cyclone Gabrielle recovery effort. Donations can be made online here . Text donations can also be made by texting DONATE to 5569.
Information on the Fund eligibility is available here.
Farmers and orchardists can also apply for help through MPI here.
The aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle has resulted in large volumes of waste. If you have waste on a lifestyle block, farm or orchard, we will be able to help you remove the larger volumes.
Different waste types need to be dealt with in different ways. Please try to keep these waste types separate so that we can minimize the amounts of mixed-waste that end up in our already overloaded waste sites.
The types of waste covered in this advisory are:
Advice on disposing of hazardous materials/ contaminated silt, and chemical waste can be found here.
Residential: Many areas have been inundated with silt from the flood waters and there are concerns regarding the level of contamination of the silt. Please check the EQC factsheet here about removal of silt.
Farmers/Lifestylers/Orchardists: If you have waste on a lifestyle block, farm or orchard, HBRC will be able to help you remove larger volumes. Landowners are asked to remove the silt and move it to a location on their own property with suitable access for trucks. Contact us on 06 835 9200 or 0800 108 838 as we will coordinate with a contractor for the removal of the silt.
Wood waste has washed up on beaches, river sides, roadsides, public areas and private properties after the cyclone. We will remove debris from public places to chip it, starting with the immediate area around the Heretaunga Plains and then progressing further afield. We strongly recommend against burning this waste as it will be contaminated and burning the waste risks spreading any contamination.
If you have wood waste on a lifestyle block, farm or orchard, the Regional Council will be able to help remove larger volumes. Landowners are asked to move the wood waste to a location on their property with suitable access for trucks. The landowners can then contact us on 0800 108 838 or 06 835 9200 as we will coordinate with a contractor for its removal.
The cyclone has caused many vineyard, and orchard posts and wire to be ripped out of the ground, and these are now scattered across properties, neighbouring land and roadsides.
IMPORTANT! Tanilised posts and wire that make up this waste cannot be disposed of through burning; burning of this waste will release toxic chemicals into the wider environment.
Where landowners have large quantities of posts and wires from fences, viticulture and horticulture operations, these can be collected by HBRC and held in a secure site for further work. HBRC will arrange collection and suitable remedial work to separate wire, for wire recycling and return of usable posts to farmers. Landowners can contact the regional council on 06 835 9200 or 0800 108 838 to coordinate the removal of posts & wire fences.
If already on a farm, farmers may be able to bury their own dead stock as per normal conditions. Large scale events should be reported to HBRC so that in these instances the dead stock can be removed from the property, particularly if located over an unconfined aquifer or within a source protection zone. If disposing of stock on a property, please consider the following before burying: Proximity to waterways, noting burials should be at least 50 m from a waterway or critical source area, and the usual pest/ vermin control.
If deceased stock are not on a farm, or there are too many on the property for the landowner to deal with, please phone us on 0800 108 838 or 06 835 9200 as we will coordinate collection and appropriate disposal.
Disposal of flood damaged household goods is through local Councils – people can check their local council website or phone them for latest advice.
Here are links to their websites:
If you have silt waste on a lifestyle block, farm or orchard, we can help remove larger volumes.
You can phone us 0800 108 838 to advise your address for pick up. Property owners need to arrange to have the silt on their properties and from under their homes piled onto the verge outside their home (not in the gutter), or in front garden if the verge is not large enough. It will be picked up and disposed of by contractors, with the pile pick-up and disposal council-funded. All sites are only able to be accessed by contractors.
Farmers and growers are working together in localised hubs, and getting council and agency assistance, so these can be the best contact for a range of help in the first instance. The Regional Council can be contacted on 0800 108 838, or 06 835 9200.
Check out out our farmers and growers cyclone help page here
MPI also have a Cyclone Gabrielle assistance page for farmers here.
Please complete the Cyclone Gabrielle rural reporting form and tell us of any damage you know of in your area. Please pinpoint the location as best you can and upload any photos you may have.
We understand that there will be an urgent need to carry out some works directly related to damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. This might include, for example, repair or replacement of damaged culverts or other access structures. We have created a simplified application to use in these circumstances.
Go to this page for information about applying for an urgent consent
Of our 248 km of stopbank network roughly 6km breached and further parts of the network were damaged by erosion in this unprecedented flooding event. There was a total of 30 breaches our network. Please note: the stopbanks did not burst. Stopbanks were overtopped and through-erosion occurs when such an enormous volume of water is moving at speed, so a number of breaches developed where the stopbank was washed away. In some locations, structures like bridges and the built-up material against and on the bridges has led to overtopping. In some places wood debris needs to be removed before repairs can be made.
We have a Rapid Repair team working on all breaches, and they are nearly complete.
You can follow the progress of our repairs on the map at https://www.hbrc.govt.nz/our-council/cyclone-gabrielle-response/flood-infrastructure-repairs/
The breaches to stopbanks in several places was caused by a much larger amount of rainfall coming through the region’s rivers than the protection system was designed to cope with.
HBRC was already planning for future flood level protection, and had started to lift flood protection on the Heretaunga Plains scheme from 1 in 100 year flood levels to 1 in 500 year levels. The Taradale stopbank upgrade completed late last year was instrumental in protecting much of Napier from catastrophic flooding, so we know these upgrades are vital.
The regional council had secured $19.2 million through Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (Kānoa - RDU) for the Resilient River Communities (RRC) Programme, to protect and mitigate the effects of climate change, which will support four projects across the region. The funding came from the Government's COVID-19 Recovery and Response Fund to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Strengthening work around a SH50 bridge over the Waipawa River was funded through this provision and held up during these floods.
Yes, the Council are establishing the terms of reference and there will be a review of the region’s flood protection assets, and drainage systems.
If you have any hazardous materials on your property please contact us for advice about safe removal. Call 06 835 9200.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council is providing information to the public and our customers through this website, to media and to agencies involved in the recovery.
We are the lead environmental agency for Hawke’s Bay with a vital role in the response to and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle on 13/14 March. We are working closely with Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, other councils and key agencies to respond to and understand this unprecedented event.
We are updating information on the website and in these FAQs regularly, especially for people in rural areas. Similarly, your local council will have information relating to residential areas.
Please refer to the relevant agencies for information:
In the aftermath of the flooding and damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, our council staff, contractors, and emergency services have made great progress on recovery in and around our Regional Parks, river access points, and cycle trails. Work continues to fully restore these great spaces.
For regular updates, go to Regional Parks and trails repairs | Hawke's Bay Regional Council (hbrc.govt.nz)
This is how we describe the probability of flooding. It means that the likelihood of this level of flooding occurring in any given year is 1 %.
A “1-in-500-year flood return period” means that the likelihood of this level of flooding occurring in any given year is 0.2 %.
The occurrence of a rare flood does not reduce the chances of another rare flood within a short time period. The probability of occurrence is the same every year. 100-year floods can happen 2 years in a row.
This video from Horizons Regional Council is a good explainer.
Following Cyclone Gabrielle, all swim spots in Hawke's Bay have a high or very high risk of contamination. There is also a high risk of debris, such as logs, in the water. DO NOT SWIM.
Our recreational water quality programme is currently on hold as all sites are considered unsuitable for swimming, and access to many locations has been impacted.
For more information on swim advice and water quality, head to Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) - Can I swim here?
Where can I get up-to-date information?
As the lead environmental agency for Hawke’s Bay, Regional Council has a vital role in the region’s recovery.
We are continually updating information for communities here on our website and Facebook page <link>.
Please also refer to the relevant local agencies for information:
Cyclone Gabrielle has resulted in silt coming down our rivers and streams and deposited in huge amounts in areas such as the Esk Valley, and minor amounts in areas such as lower Waipawa.
Flood silt deposits typically come from sediment and soil that have been eroded by floodwaters. When water levels rise, they can become powerful enough to move and carry sediment from riverbanks, hillsides, and other areas. As the water slows down and recedes, the sediment settles and accumulates, leaving behind a layer of silt. This process can result in the formation of floodplains and delta regions. Silt deposits can have both positive and negative impacts on the environment and can affect agriculture, land use, and wildlife habitats.
The amount of silt is influenced by several factors. One of the main factors is the intensity and duration of the flood. The longer the flood lasts and the more water there is, as in Cyclone Gabrielle, the more silt and other sediment will be carried and deposited by the water.
Other factors that can affect the amount of silt deposited include the slope and shape of the land, the type of soils, the amount of vegetation cover, and the nature of the drainage network. For example, areas with steeper slopes or where the water flow is concentrated in narrow channels are likely to experience more erosion and deposit more sediment.
In some cases, human activities such as deforestation, land use changes, and development can also increase the amount of sediment deposited in a flood-prone area. When natural vegetation cover is removed, the soil becomes more vulnerable to erosion and more sediment is carried away by the floodwaters.
Floodwaters also pick up sediment of a range of sizes, with silt obviously being easier to carry further than coarser / larger sediment such as sand and rocks. The silt that accumulates at the bottom of a valley can be the accumulation of silt from the top of the ranges/catchment, whereas sand and stones etc. would have already been deposited along the way.
We manage two major flood control schemes on the Heretaunga Plains and in the Upper Tukituki River. Ratepayers in these areas pay rates to fund the maintenance work which includes maintaining and even strengthening stopbanks, planting trees as live edge protection to reduce erosion from flood water
The Heretaunga Plains scheme provides stopbank protection, dams, floodgates and drainage benefits on the low-lying river plains of the Tūtaekurī, Ngaruroro and lower Tukituki rivers and for around 120,000 people. This includes sub-catchments such as the Karamu.
The Upper Tukituki scheme protects the inland river plains and around 5,000 from flooding from the Tukituki, Waipawa, Makaretu, Mangaonuku and Tukipo rivers.
More information is here - Major Schemes | Hawke's Bay Regional Council
Yes, we did undertake probable maximum flood analysis and this was ahead of our decision to upgrade the stopbanks from a 1-in-100 year level to a 1-in-500 year level.
We also analysed possible breaches to understand the impact on the community, which is how we prioritised upgrades on stopbanks at Taradale, Moteo and Ngatarawa. Before the cyclone, we had completed a 1-in-500 year level upgrade at Taradale, and planned to upgrade Ngatarawa and Moteo stopbanks.
We had secured $19.2 million through Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, for a programme of upgrades across the region including for the Taradale upgrade now complete, and additional upgrades at Ngatarawa and Moteo. We are continuing to work with Government for additional funding beyond 2023.
Our modelling didn’t include the high volume of wood debris nor did it allow for dams to form at bridges which potentially released waves of water and debris when bridges failed.
We are talking with roading authorities to ensure that new bridge heights and flood control improvements are designed together.
Anyone can take one cubic metre of gravel from the rivers once per year. More info at
If you have any queries or questions, please email email@example.com
Drain clearing is now complete at the Mission, Waitomo, Awatoto, McLeod, Ericksen, Brookfield, Pākōwhai drains and the Tūtaekurī-Waimate overflow.
Please refer to map for drain maintenance updates link below:
Yes, we will 50/50 share the fence replacement costs.
This year, an exception is in place for flood-damaged properties within airsheds to responsibly burn waste this winter. Items that can be burned include trees, vines, pruning’s, vegetation, and untreated timber. All other materials are still prohibited.
Consents are not required. Please follow all burn guidelines, bylaws, FENZ requirements and ensure wind drift is limited. The cyclone has caused many vineyard, and orchard posts and wire to be ripped out of the ground, and these are now scattered across properties, neighbouring land, and roadsides.
IMPORTANT! Tanalised posts and wire that make up this waste cannot be disposed of through burning; burning of this waste will release toxic chemicals into the wider environment.
Where landowners have large quantities of posts and wires from fences, viticulture, and horticulture operations, these can be collected by HBRC and held in a secure site for further work. HBRC will arrange collection and suitable remedial work to separate wire, for wire recycling and return of usable posts to farmers. Landowners can contact the regional council on 06 835 9200 or 0800 108 838 to coordinate the removal of posts & wire fences.
More info here: https://www.hbrc.govt.nz/environment/air-quality/outdoor-burning/
In March 2023, Regional Council commissioned an independent assessment of the piles of wood debris that washed up on Hawke’s Bay beaches and rivers in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle. The report found that only a very small portion was forestry slash.
17 sites were surveyed, and the woody debris assessed consisted of a mixture pine, willow, poplar and ‘other’ - native timber and debris that could not be identified.
At all but one of the surveyed sites, there was little evidence of slash, indicating that the majority of pine came from erosion of hillsides and streambanks.
The full post-cyclone large woody debris assessment can be found here: https://hbrc.info/woodydebris2023
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