Volunteer Christina Keeling (l) and Chloe Johnson prepare food for delivery.

An army of generous volunteers are connecting with those most in need in the wake of the devastating cyclone, thanks to a local Facebook group.

Havelock North woman Chloe Johnson started Cyclone Hawke’s Bay Help this week after seeing a huge number of people wanting to help and not knowing where to direct it. “I was feeling helpless and almost guilty as I sat in my home with power and watched the devastation unfold in our region. I was going onto all the different volunteer or community Facebook pages to see how I could help, but they were overloaded with so much fast moving information that it was hard to keep up,” she says.

The group, which has already attracted 2,900 members, allows anyone to post about the skills and resources they can offer, and for those who have been affected to say what they need. This means people can quickly connect and direct help where it’s needed most. It also provides one central point of information for people to go to – a huge relief amid the vast and constantly changing cyclone-related information.

Another key feature of the group is the How Can I Help Directory, which is a consolidated list of assistance required across the region each day, from clean-ups to food drops, providing supplies, offering accommodation and animal welfare support. The directory is updated throughout the day and time stamped so volunteers can go to the directory and find something that suits them when they’re available. 

The clean-up of destroyed homes and communities remains the biggest area of need for volunteers via the website, and which will continue for months, says Johnson. As long as this continues, there will also be demand for food, supplies and equipment as well as accommodation support for people and animals. “All the different areas are linked and that’s why the community support is so crucial.”

The response from the community has been incredible, says Johnson. Initially people messaged saying they were relieved to have a central resource to go to. “Then came the offers of help, requests from those in need and the amazing human connections proving that Hawke’s Bay has so much heart and a deep community spirit.” 

Spend just a few moments scrolling through the posts on the Facebook group and the generosity of spirit and willingness to help is heartwarming. There are carloads of donated food and drink, much appreciated by hungry, hardworking helpers, offers of accommodation to families who have lost everything, supplies for the clean-up, and even out-of-towners travelling to the region to lend a hand. For those who aren’t able to volunteer, they can donate to disaster relief funds that will be used to directly help the region recover. 

Every contribution, no matter how big or small, will have a positive long-lasting effect. However, Johnson urges people to look after themselves as much as other people. “This is a marathon, not a sprint and I’m seeing the initial adrenaline wear off and people are understandably getting tired,” she says. “The support to restore our region will be needed for quite some time so it’s important to keep the energy levels high and fuel in the tank to avoid mass burn out.” 

Where to go if you want to help

Cyclone Hawke’s Bay Help – This Facebook group and directory is a central point of information connecting volunteers with people in need.


Other websites:

Volunteering Hawke’s Bay – Connects volunteers to organisations and provides community support. 


Re-Source – A registered charity that collects used goods from the community and delivers them to people in need.


Environment Centre Hawke’s Bay – Connecting volunteers, donated goods and supplies with people in need.


Hawke’s Bay Disaster Relief Trust – Donate to the region’s Cyclone Gabrielle recovery effort.


Red Cross NZ Disaster Fund – Donate to communities across New Zealand who have been impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.


SPCA Cyclone Fund – Donate to support the rescue, transportation and sheltering of displaced animals and pet owners.


Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Charitable Trust – Givealittle page set up to provide assistance to the horticultural industry.



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1 Comment

  1. It is such a joy to see our community coming together in unity and one accord for our neighbours. When we woke together for the good of our fellow man great things happen. Everyone giving what they have in their hand. Go the Bay, go the community and long may this generosity and connection last. Out of the darkest hour for so many there comes light. Thank you to all who are giving to others in their time of need. You are all human angels.

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