Just nine months on from the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, Gisborne is gearing up for a busy summer and locals are excited to welcome manuhiri back to the region.
Businesses in the city are up and running and 7705m3 of debris has been cleared from town beaches, while more than 100 sites along critical State Highways 2 and 35 have been repaired, including the resurfacing of 11km of SH2 with 20,000 tonnes of asphalt, further strengthening the highway for the future.
The first cruise ship was welcomed back into the port on Monday, with the arrival of the National Geographic ship Orion docking at Eastland Port kicking off what is tipped to be a bumper cruise season, with no fewer than 25 ships expected to visit the city before the end of March.
After a challenging winter, particularly for Gisborne’s tourism operators, who had last summer’s peak season cut short and have had to overcome perceptions that the region remains closed to visitors, regional tourism organisation, Tairāwhiti Gisborne, is encouraging Kiwis to come see why the region should be at the top of their summer road trip list.
Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz says the region’s cyclone recovery has been significant and challenging at times but has also highlighted the resilience, heart, and mana of Tai Rāwhiti and its people.
“I am incredibly proud of the progress achieved in just nine months and the collective efforts of our communities to get back on our feet.
‘Tick Gisborne off your bucket list’
“We have so much to offer, from unique attractions to world-class cellar doors, events and natural scenery.”
Gisborne Railbike Adventures owner and operator Geoff Main says Te Tai Rāwhiti is the perfect place for Kiwis who love a roadie, enjoy a good surf and are looking to unpack and unwind this summer.
“Tick Gisborne off your bucket list. Here you can catch some waves in the morning, ride the railway by bike in the afternoon, and do a wine tasting in the evening. It truly has something for everyone.”
Te Tai Rāwhiti Gisborne trade manager, Kim McVicker, is excited to showcase the beautiful rohe to the rest of Aotearoa.
“Te Tai Rāwhiti must be seen and lived to be believed. With the promise of a long hot summer just around the corner, we are encouraging Kiwis to come and see why we live in the greatest place on earth.”
Thank you, Aotearoa
Meanwhile, Stoltz and fellow Gisborne District councillor Rhonda Tibble have thanked Aotearoa for the “kindness and generosity” shown towards the district after it got hit by two cyclones in just six weeks.
More than $3 million was donated to the Disaster Relief Trust in the wake of Cyclone Hale in January and Cyclone Gabrielle on February 14.
The after-effects of the double devastation were still being felt by whānau across the district, but the kindness of New Zealanders could not be understated for the impact it had had on many residents, Stoltz and Tibble said.
“Mostly, we want to thank you all. When the donations were rolling in, it kept our community’s spirits up at a very challenging time.”
A total of $2.6 million was paid out to more than 400 applicants and 200 lump sum payments were paid out to property owners whose homes were red or yellow stickered, Stoltz said.
She said a late donation of $400,000 was received on June 27 this year, which will be used for further applications and stickered properties.
“We ensure 100 per cent of donations received go directly to Tai Rāwhiti residents who were affected.”