Another $11.5 million will be provided to flood-stricken regions as they prepare to deal with any further impacts from Cyclone Gabrielle.
It includes $4m for providers to make sure they can meet increased demand provoked by the flooding and cyclone, $1m for food banks to replenish stocks, $2m for community groups, a $4m expansion to the scope of Community Connectors and $500,000 ring-fenced for the needs of disabled people.
The new funding has been reallocated from unspent money set aside for the Covid response.
Deputy prime minister Carmel Sepuloni said the demand for support was exceeding funding available for particular groups to respond to the needs of the community. “Today’s announcement is another part of the government’s ongoing response as we continue to support Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and impacted regions,” she said.
“This support package will provide immediate relief for individuals and families, bespoke support for disabled people like transport assistance, as well as support for the voluntary sector who continue to be at the heart of their communities and our response.”
Chris Hipkins speaks at post-cabinet press conference
Sepuloni reiterated the message from officials that the country was “not out of the woods yet” and that the extreme weather event was still unfolding. “Our focus remains on the most affected communities including Māori, Pacific, disabled, youth and our ethnic communities, and the organisations and groups that work to support them.”
Cabinet met remotely today, with prime minister Chris Hipkins left stranded in Auckland due to a flurry of flight cancellations in out and out of the city. He’s aiming to return to Wellington tomorrow for the re-opening of parliament.
Speaking at a post-cabinet press conference, Hipkins said the latest advice was still that the situation was likely to “get worse before it gets better” and people should have a plan to evacuate ready to go. “Civil Defence centres have been set up across the top of the North Island and they are ready to go.”
The start of the year has been incredibly difficult for many, said Hipkins. “I want to acknowledge how hard many [people] are doing it.” Many families just haven’t been able to catch a break, said Hipkins. He hoped the new package announced today would help those most at need. “Nearly 25,000 people have so far been assisted with food, clothing, accommodation and bedding. People have lost their homes and their vehicles.”
While Hipkins will spend tomorrow morning in Auckland, he has a busy week of other engagements schedule. He’ll be speaking to UK PM Rishi Sunak tomorrow and later in the week will have a conversation with Canada’s Justin Trudeau. He’s also set to meet with Princess Anne who is visiting the country. On Friday, he’s expecting to back in Auckland.