Fortnightly updates from New Zealand Red Cross have revealed flood-ravaged Hawke’s Bay has received more than half the share of the NZ Disaster Fund’s allocated spend.
The organisation said it had so far committed around $11.3 million across New Zealand from $26m in donations.
Funding allocated to organisations and work based solely in Hawke’s Bay as of June 15 (not including groups listed as ‘all affected areas’ or ‘Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne’) is estimated to be about $6.3m.
Allocated funding, according to Red Cross, means that it has been approved and those who have signed the final terms and conditions forms have likely received their money.
Funding is made up from both the Response and Recovery Programme spend as well as the Partnership Grants Programme spend.
The Partnership Grants Programme gives funds to community organisations and other entities supporting community recovery. The Response and Recovery Programme focuses on supporting immediate response work and community-led recovery work by providing goods, services and people.
Out of the 271 grants received from organisations across New Zealand, 89 Community Support Grants and 46 Community Enable Grants have been approved.
“We’re really pleased to say we have now allocated approximately $10 million in grants from the fund, and we can see this funding is making a significant contribution to the cyclone recovery phase,” said Red Cross general manager emergency management and international Sean Stewart.
“Organisations in the Hawke’s Bay are making a huge effort to support people in their communities, and we have been humbled to be able to assist them in the amazing work they are doing. We’ve made around 92 grants to Hawke’s Bay organisations.”
Some of the largest single allocations have gone to groups in Hawke’s Bay.
The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) has been given $2m for the Hawke’s Bay Disaster Relief Trust to help provide support for yellow and red stickered properties across Hawke’s Bay, as well as waste removal.
Hawke’s Bay Disaster Relief Fund and regional council chairwoman Hinewai Ormsby said at the time of the first funding announcement that HBRC was “humbled and extremely grateful” to the Red Cross for its donation to the fund.
$1,108,900 was also allocated for the Wairoa Liveable homes fund.
Among other recipients in the region are marae, community clubs and groups, as well as clean-up groups.
The grants range from funds for clean up supplies and resources, to mental health funding and financial support.
“Hawke’s Bay has received a significant portion of the fund largely because of the enormous and widespread clean-up effort required and Hawke’s Bay organisations have been very proactive in seeking funding to help their communities,” Stewart said.
While Stewart confirmed Red Cross representatives didn’t necessarily visit all applicants, the organisation had staff working with community groups in each region who were connected with many of the grant recipients and knew their work.
“Applicants were required to give quite a lot of information about their planned activities and once approved, they’re required to report back to us on how they are spending their grant and what impact they are having in their community,” he said.
“We will be looking to speak with all applicants over time as they work to help their communities.”
The third programme in the fund is about better preparing communities for the next disaster.
At this stage approximately $5m is allocated to that programme, but Stewart said this may change as needed.
“We’ve already had a large number of requests for funds to support future preparedness and we’ll be working with key partners including local and central government agencies and local communities to identify where these funds can best be spent.”
In an interview with Hawke’s Bay Today in April, Red Cross NZ secretary-general Sarah Stuart-Black admitted the organisation had faced “a lot” of criticism from Hawke’s Bay residents and those who donated to the NZ Disaster Fund after Cyclone Gabrielle.
“There’s obviously been a lot of feedback. We see it, particularly on social media,” she said.
“There is also misinformation being shared, which is kind of amplifying the misunderstanding around what Red Cross is doing.”
In the interview, Stuart-Black confirmed 100 per cent of the donations in the New Zealand Disaster Fund, and any interest that’s accrued, would all go to the purpose of the fund.
The organisation was also criticised for its lack of speed and urgency, to which Stuart-Black said they were trying to manage in the best way possible.
“We’re trying to balance the need for speed, and being able to support people affected, whilst equally providing enough assurance to the public that we’ve spent that money sensibly.”
Mitchell Hageman joined Hawke’s Bay Today in late January. From his Napier base, he writes regularly on social issues, arts and culture, and the community.