Guest Post: Cyclone Devastation In New Zealand

My thanks to Gavin Marriott for this guest post.

Cyclone Gabrielle

For most in England the news about New Zealand is that their English Cricket team (led by a Kiwi coach & captain by the way) is touring here at the mo. So we gave them a welcome of wet pitches. The same welcome given to Princess Anne who is here at the moment too.

New Zealand has just had its first tropical cyclone (only in the upper North Island). We knew it was coming and it brought gusts of 160 kilometres an hour (100 mph). Many parts of northern New Zealand were already waterlogged by a record rainfall a fortnight previous. Cyclone Gabrielle added much more along with 11 metre (36 foot) waves. Scientists say it fed off unusually warm seas driven by climate change and La Nina weather patterns.

There are many towns cut off with no power or communication. Deaths include a volunteer fireman and bodies have been seen floating down rivers.

The RNZAF here seen winched hundreds of people off the roofs of their houses. At the same time the RNZ Navy had to rescue a yachtsman in the storm some distance from land. New Zealand may be the same land mass as Great Britain but most of it is mountains, up to 12,000ft, therefore limited places to build towns. The English settlers of 180 years ago built in places they shouldn’t – alongside rivers, next to lakes, on drained swamps, onhillsides, cliff tops and flood plains. An interesting fact here is when our settlements were designed back in England, they were built to face the sun. We are in the southern hemisphere – so they were the wrong way around!

After the Christchurch earthquakes a dozen years go (which I survived) we suffered at having a large city built on swamp land. Folks, they are rebuilding on the same land and on new drained swamps. Our new hospital on a riverbank has permanent pumps operating. This cyclone has followed a tough time during Covid recovery where we borrowed Billions– in addition to the Billons borrowed for the Christchurch earthquake rebuild. That resulted in high insurance premiums nationally and so many in New Zealand couldn’t afford to insure. Crop producers have endured previous flooding and so Britain will not get much of our exports at a time they have left Europe.

In comparison to Britain, for a population of 5 million, we have highways the same length that some will need a total rebuild and re routing around hills, same as railways, with many new bridges.

Its going to be a massive financial blow and I don’t know how we will recover, given this is most likely going to be repeated, and thanks to global warming – soon.

After the recent Pike River mine tragedy (29), the Mosque massacre (51) and the White island eruption (22) – is anyone interested in the cricket?

50 thoughts on “Guest Post: Cyclone Devastation In New Zealand

  1. I too hadn’t heard about the cyclone, Pete I didn’t realise however that so many towns/houses have been built on unsuitable ground although I do remember that scenario from when I lived in the UK…it seems man never learns…x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you are wondering why so many towns in NZ are built on riverbanks – the English arriving here built a town where the ship from England docked. They tried to sail as far upstream where the water was able to be drunk. They cleared the land, erosion then floods. It produces good crops in between flooding mind you!!
    Latest report is 2 firemen dead in a landslide.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Gavin, nice report. Having also survived the Chch earthquake and having had first hand experience of the central city devastation I am a little suprised so much has been reinvested in the pegasus bay area, interesting the majority of
    deaths were from the more modern buildings.
    With all this said I cannot imagine the devastation and hardship of those affected in the North Island from this cyclone, I hope the government does not make this political and that perhaps they should canvas the countries that contribute the most to global warming rather beat down on us in NZ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rob, the worst Chch rebuilds are now around Burwood (& the suburb of Marshlands) & Halswell where they have pumps permanently engaged as they also do at Chch Hospital.
      For those overseas, our hospital is alongside a river bank & they have rebuilt it with a far heavier footprint. There is no car parking there and they had the chance to relocate on the edge of town.
      It is election year and alluding to that, Rob has summed it up well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Over here we rebuild on hurricane prone coasts. Who insures them? The government. Until you’re a mile inland and insurance is higher than the mortgage if you get it. Or build luxury homes on a cliff’s edge. Then it rains for four days and the house slides down the hill. And then we do it all over again. I can’t believe anyone would stay in California. What am I saying? They’re all moving here!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. (1) “Is anyone interested in the cricket?”
    Response: crickets.
    Where’s Pinocchio when you need him?
    (2) Cyclone Gabrielle will soon be followed by Cyclone Xena.
    (3) Here in Las Vegas, it doesn’t matter which way the house faces. We can’t escape the sun!
    (4) What your country needs is a new zeal for problem-solving.
    (5) Look at the bright side. At least you can enjoy tubing.

    But, seriously, I hope you can all get through these tough times. You have a beautiful country there!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A very timely blog, we have heard about the cyclone, but of course it has been subsumed by the other terrible news. I didn’t realise how unsafely built New Zealand cities were. I live safely just up the hill from the original Christchurch in Dorset – previously in Hampshire. Interestingly our Christchurch was originally just swamp and it lies between two rivers, Stour and Avon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christchurch NZ (referred in writing here as Chch) was named after the college at Oxford Uni. Our region is Canterbury after Kent. Our Avon river is named after a small one in Scotland. Many place names here are after British bosses, but are slowly getting twin named in the native tongue now.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Learning from our mistakes is something that rarely happens, Carolyn. They rebuild in earthquake zones, and settle new communities onto flood plains. No doubt profits and corruption are behind all that.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pete, so much heartbreak for those who have lost family and friends, their homes. One can’t imagine 11-metre waves – absolutely terrifying. There is so much to do to recover from this cyclone in New Zealand and yet the fear it could happen soon again. A sombre yet informative guest post by Gavin and many thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You have to wonder whether we (mankind) will ever learn about building on unsuitable land. The same happens in the UK with housing developments on what are flood plains. The name should give it away! So many disasters all around the world due to man’s incompetence and it is hard to see whether any changes to the way we live will come in time to prevent further climate disasters.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have never understood why countries continue to rebuild on earthquake fault zones, only for the same thing to happen again later. At some stage, it should be accepted that those areas are not suitable for human habitation. (The same applies to areas regularly flooded of course.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Jack I never mentioned the volcanos that we sit on top of. During this cyclone, Wellington got (another good shake). Yes folks our capital city is on a large EQ fault line and often gets reminders). More rains are expected up north next week

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I saw some of this on the news, Pete. It is frightening to see all the disasters occurring one after the other across the globe. I hope we have not waited too long to address the poor decisions we have made about our planet.

    Liked by 1 person

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