Our Executive Officer hit hard by Cyclone

Amy Bowkett, Hawke’s Bay Foundations Executive Officer, who has created a cyclone recovery fund, has herself had her home destroyed.

The foundation launched the HB Cyclone Relief Fund via our webpage so New Zealanders can donate financial assistance. It supports the region’s charitable organisations to provide operational assistance and support during the recovery period.

Amy Bowkett’s family’s Puketapu home was hit. Having also flooded during the flooding of 2020, they were on high alert and evacuated to a neighbour’s higher ground when water started lapping at the door. “Another neighbour who lived much higher came flying down on his quad bike saying get out and get high because the river’s broken its banks and your house is in its path.

“By the time he had finished speaking, the house, you could only see its roof and my husband’s car was picked up and smashed against the shed. I just remember standing there with my hands on my knees and my mouth wide open just looking at it thinking what the…”

The house was lifted up off its foundations, dropped back down and shoved along with the water, so flooding only went knee-high inside the house.

“One of our outdoor couches is now sticking out the side of under our house,” Bowkett said.

The house has been red stickered and they are waiting for an insurance assessor to inspect it.

She said living there again would be traumatising whenever it rained.

As their house is situated next door to an onion paddock, the flooding swept the onions over to their property. “As we stood on that hill watching the river come across, it was just a sea of bobbing onions and our house caught the lot.”

The 16 houses on the hill they had evacuated to made their own little Civil Defence centre to help each other and after three days, they were evacuated.

The local community has been amazing, “Puketapu is a wonderful community.”

As a community foundation, Hawke’s Bay Foundation manages and grows donations and bequests in one regional endowment fund, but in times of crisis can create special funds where donations are not invested, but are distributed entirely to those in need.

“There’s so much in the community that has been affected from people’s mental health to food scarcity.”

She said the ongoing impact on mental health will be one area of focus for the fund. She has also re-iterated the message that the best thing people can do now to help is to donate money, rather than goods.