Last month, Cyclone Gabrielle caused significant damage to certain regions across the North Island. Homes have been damaged or destroyed, livelihoods have been severely impacted and sadly, some have even lost loved ones.
In the Diocese of Palmerston North, the Hawkes Bay and Wairoa regions have been severely impacted by the cyclone.
Fr Craig Butler, the local administrator for the Diocese of Palmerston North, in a statement in the immediate aftermath said, “Their suffering is very real; they need our help, and we need to show them we care. The first thing we can do is pray for them and for all who are risking their own lives to help them.”
Sr Margaret Monaghan RNDM, when reflecting on those in her religious congregation living in the region, said, “Our people are resourceful and they’re part of communities, both of these things are in their favour.”
Over the first weekend after the cyclone, collection points in some parishes were set up to gather essential supplies for Hawkes Bay, at their request. Liam Greer, the general manager of the diocese, was overwhelmed by people’s generosity and labelled it as “outstanding”.
In an article published in CathNews, Greer also stated that there are plans in place to provide ongoing support to the Hawkes Bay area, and that diocesan staff are heading to the region to help schools and staff, including trained counsellors and staff to assist with insurance claims.
During his Angelus Message on Sunday 19 February, Pope Francis sent a heartfelt message of solidarity to the people of New Zealand during his Angelus message at the Vatican, expressing his closeness to them in their time of need, saying,
“I am close to the people of New Zealand, who have been hit in recent days by a devastating cyclone. Brothers and sisters, let us not forget those who suffer and let our charity be attentive, let it be a concrete charity!”
The Diocese of Palmerston North has launched a financial appeal to collect funds to distribute over the coming weeks to those who have been impacted by the cyclone. Information about how to donate to the Cyclone Relief Appeal can be found at https://pndiocese.org.nz/cyclone
Since launching this appeal, many communities have organised fundraising events to contribute, along with many generous individual donations. Many schools, for example, have hosted non-uniform days and other fundraising opportunities for students to participate in. A few examples of these events are illustrated below, with more planned in coming weeks.
Every donation, no matter how small, can make a difference.
We thank those who have already generously given their time and resources.
Donations have now exceeded $100,000 and plans for distributing these funds to those most in need are underway, in collaboration with local leaders across affected areas of the diocese.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. Let us continue to unite in support of those in need.