Latest estimate of Cyclone Gabrielle costs reaches nearly NZ$1.5bn as growers call for more government support

Cyclone Gabrielle caused significant damage in February 2023

Cyclone Gabrielle caused significant damage in February 2023

Image: New Zealand Defence Force

Just over one month on, the full cost of the damage to Hawke’s Bay horticulture caused by Cyclone Gabrielle has become clearer with the latest estimates reaching nearly NZ$1.5bn. 

The billion-dollar figure was given to growers in an all of horticulture meeting set up by industry groups on 20 April. The early estimate includes lost production in 2023, the cost of the clean up and damage repair, the re-establishment of horticulture, and lost production in future years.

Direct economic loss to the industry in 2023 is estimated to be about NZ$500m. The cyclone struck at a time when the industry was looking to get back to the 9 per cent annual growth figure, which it enjoyed pre-Covid.

HortNZ president, Barry O’Neil chaired the meeting and said the industry wanted more support from the government.

“Further delays [by the government] were totally unacceptable,” O’Neil said. “No one is taking leadership to ensure decisions are made in a timely manner, and growers are rightfully running out of patience.”

The Hawke’s Bay Growers Taskforce has asked the government for NZ$700-$750m in assistance, with a proposed recovery package which has three key ‘buckets’: clean up, re-instatement, and re-establishment over the next three years.