Ethnic communities in areas affected by the flooding and cyclone were quick to respond to their communities’ needs. They not only helped their own communities, but anyone who was in need.

They did this in a range of ways, including:

  • Cooking and providing food for free
  • Door knocking to check in on people who couldn’t be reached in other ways
  • Providing language support
  • Helping people fill in funding applications
  • Helping people clean up their properties
  • Sharing important information and advice
  • Linking people to response agencies
  • Opened mosques as emergency shelters
  • Provided shelter to people who couldn’t stay in their homes
  • Offer counselling in different languages

To find out more about how ethnic service providers are responding to the floods and cyclone, check out the section on ethnic service providers.

Here are some of the stories about how ethnic communities supported people affected by the Auckland Anniversary floods and Cyclone Gabrielle.

Hawke's Bay

Days after Cyclone Gabrielle left its mark on Hawke’s Bay, the local Indonesian community – Kami Bay - teamed up with Indonesian Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Bostock NZ to help clear people’s homes. Kami Bay Hawke’s Bay received support from the Wellington branch and this enabled them to quickly coordinate work with the Indonesian RSE workers.

People helping with the clean up

Seeing the devastation in their community, Pakistan and Friends Hawke’s Bay Association Incorporated organised a cylone relief support gathering, centred around a BBQ lunch. The association says it was a way to support the community and build stronger relationships.

“Some of us don't have families here so we encourage these gatherings to ensure everyone is okay and if anyone needs help with anything to know that us at Pakistan and Friends Hawke's Bay Association are always here to help,” the association wrote on its Facebook page.

The Sikh community in Hawke’s Bay has provided thousands of meals to the community since Cyclone Gabrielle tore through the region.

The Sikh community and Ravidassia communities have prepared and distributed thousands of meals. They provided these to Civil Defence and community-led centres , marae, a church, to RSE workers and the wider community. 

Both the Hastings Sikh Society and Guru Ravidass temple in Hastings have been working hard to feed both those impacted by the cyclone, and those working on the response.

They went out to visit the worst-hit areas, where people were pleased to receive a hot meal. Some of the food was also helicoptered to communities that were cut off.

Read how both temples fed the community.

Read more about how they helped others

Members of NZ Police and the Sikh community providing food. Members of the Sikh Community cooking up a storm


Gisborne / Tairāwhiti

After the cyclone cut communications to many areas in Tairāwhiti, the Tairāwhiti Multicultural Council couldn’t reach all its members, so it set out door-knocking to contact people and check they were safe.

Shortly after, the council responded to ram raids at local dairies with a creative solution – planter boxes.

TMC strategic adviser Arish Naresh said small business owners worked long hours and sacrificed a lot to keep their businesses running.

“The last thing they need is to operate their businesses in fear. A lot of work is being done to support dairy owners but there is an urgent need for something more to be done because the level of crime is on the rise nationally.”

The council also offered support to ethnic/migrant and multicultural communities at a hub, helping with language support, insurance claims, connecting people with government agencies and offering other social support.

Tairāwhiti Multicultural Council and Bunnings staff with boxes used to protect local dairys Tairāwhiti Multicultural Council and the dairy owners they were supporting


Mt Roskill Collective volunteer and local resident Jenny Janif said it was heart-warming to see how people from different cultures from the Mt Roskill community helped each other on the night of the Auckland floods, and in the days and weeks that followed.

Young Pasifika and Māori men used small boats and dinghies to help people, including refugee families, get to safety; the following night they carried mattresses into May Rd School, for Muslim women and children to sleep on. They continued to deliver groceries to the school while the families stayed there.

May Rd School was set up as an emergency shelter by New Zealand Ethnic Women's Trust. Women and children who could no longer stay in their flood-damaged homes were provided with shelter, food and bedding.

They worked tirelessly to support affected families, providing them with a range of support. The trust later met with Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni where they were able to share their stories and request further support.

Read more about the trust’s work in this story from RNZ.

Meanwhile, the local Community Evacuation Centre was operated largely by volunteers from the Pasifika and Māori communities, offering to help anyone in need.

Ms Janif said it was beautiful to witness how the community supported one another, and how organisations such as the NZ Ethnic Women’s Trust, Mt Roskill Collective, Kainga Ora and the ARK Project worked collaboratively to support their community.

Pictured are representatives from the four organisations – all from different backgrounds and cultures.

Food deliveries

From left to right: Karla Beazley of Kainga Ora, Asya Abed from NZ Ethnic Women’s Trust, Jenny Janif, Mt Roskill Collective volunteer and Tili Leilua from the ARK Project.


After responding to the Auckland Anniversary Floods, cooking food for hundreds of people, the New Zealand Muslim Association turned their focus to emergency shelter when Cyclone Gabrielle was approaching.

With teams in place, they were able to open five mosques in Tāmaki Makaurau as emergency shelters for people affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. Each mosque had separate areas for men and women.

Ikhlaq Kashkari​, New Zealand Muslim Association president, told Stuff that other Islamic associations around Auckland had also opened their mosques, and it was, “part of the faith to help”.

Read about how Auckland's mosques opened as emergency shelters.

NZ Ethnic Trust's emergency shelter NZ Ethnic Women's Trust - emergency shelter

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