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Fundraiser sees more than $50k handed over for Cyclone Gabrielle relief effort

Saturday 15 April 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National


Fundraiser sees more than $50k handed over for Cyclone Gabrielle relief effort
Operation Tauturu Aotearoa has raised more than $50,000 towards the Cyclone Gabrielle relief effort. Pictured are supporters of the Cook Islands fundraising effort at the Ngātipā for the presentation of a $52,892 cheque to the NZ High Commissioner Tui Dewes. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/23041408

Cook Islands people have come to the aid of New Zealand as Operation Tauturu Aotearoa has raised more than $50,000 to assist those in need following the devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.

A committee described as “the magnificent dozen” were behind the massive fundraising effort which culminated in a formal presentation at Ngātipā on Friday.

The months long appeal was spearheaded by Norman George, who with the help of others, co-ordinated a team which organised numerous events including a radiothon and charity dinner in aid of the disaster.

The formalities got underway with Tangi O Te “Pu” – sound of the shell.

In his opening address Bishop Papa Tutai Pere, also known as commander in chief and chief of operations of Operation Tauturu Aotearoa, mentioned those involved in the massive effort.

He said an estimated 80,000 people of Cook Islands descent lived in New Zealand, describing the nation as “our Motherland”.

The nation had aided the Cook Islands in terms of education and health among other things, he said.

“In one of the worst disasters to hit our Motherland, our 12-member committee team rose to the occasion; they stand before you.”

King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters, in addressing those gathered said he recalled the Cook Islands relief effort for Cyclone Bola, which hit New Zealand in 1988.

He made special mention of Norman George who also picked up that fundraising effort 35 years ago.

New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Tui Dewes acknowledged those involved in the effort after the presentation of a cheque for $52,894.

She thanked them for all the aroha they had shown, before describing Gabrielle as an unprecedented event.

“The biggest cyclone to hit New Zealand since Bola.”

Gabrielle had taken 11 lives and displaced 10,000 people, Dewes said.

“It has been a difficult and heart-breaking time for New Zealand.”

In showing aroha back to the Cook Islands, Dewes also thanked Prime Minister Mark Brown for his words of condolence.

The koha would go into a fund that would be redistributed by New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, she said.

Speaking to Cook Islands News after the formalities, George said it was the memories of Cyclone Bola which prompted him to jump back into action again.

He thanked the “magnificent dozen”.

“They were dynamic and you couldn’t ask for better people; it’s been a tremendous pleasure.”       

Cyclone Gabrielle ripped through the North Island of New Zealand during February. It was the deadliest cyclone and weather event overall to hit New Zealand since Cyclone Giselle in 1968.