© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of flood damage in the the aftermath of cyclone Gabrielle in HawkeÕs Bay, New Zealand, in this picture released on February 15, 2023. New Zealand Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
By Lewis Jackson
SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealand will launch an international fundraising appeal for the massive reconstruction work needed after Cyclone Gabrielle tore across the country’s north earlier this month, forcing thousands of people into shelters and killing eleven.
The appeal will fund longer term recovery projects and target wealthy expatriates, businesses and anyone with affection for New Zealand, said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Monday. Facebook (NASDAQ:) owner Meta has offered to promote the appeal, he added.
“One of the things we know from past events is that there are people abroad with very strong connections to New Zealand who want to be able to make a contribution,” Hipkins said at a news conference announcing the initiative.
The appeal will be modeled after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake fundraiser, which collected over NZ$94 million ($57.94 million).
Cyclone Gabrielle hit New Zealand’s North Island on Feb. 12 and battered roads and bridges, left tens of thousands without power across an area that makes up a third of the country. Police are still searching for 4 missing people.
A national state of emergency, only the third declared in the country’s history, will continue in cyclone-hit regions.
Hipkins said the government was considering “all the options” to pay for reconstruction, forecast to be a similar price tag to the NZ$13.5 billion spent after the Christchurch earthquake.
The government is under pressure to avoid spending that could worsen inflation after New Zealand’s central bank raised interest rates to the highest level in 14 years and flagged more hikes to come.
($1 = 1.6223 New Zealand dollars)