Emily Henderson: The need for greater resilience in infrastructure post-cyclone

Northland-based MPs Emily Henderson and Kelvin Davis visit Northpower staff working overtime to restore power.

Kia Kaha Whangārei.

It’s hard to put the last week into words. The scale of the devastation in Napier, Hawkes Bay and also Auckland is weighing on us all, and at the same time, many of us here in Whangarei are also dealing with the lesser but still significant damage locally, and some will be dealing with that damage for some time. Given the scale of the events, it is going to take time to work through everything that needs to be done.

Before we start thinking about the next steps, however, it is important to pause, not only to grieve with those who have lost, but also to say a heartfelt thanks to our first responders, our service providers and to the many people from our community who came out to help. They were – and are – incredible.

If you were directly affected and are struggling to cope, there is help available. The National State of Emergency enables Government to take special measures, including emergency relief funds for affected individuals and businesses (including rural businesses and farmers), to which you may be entitled. If you can’t reach MSD to find out, or you need help negotiating with your insurers or EQC, please call my office for help.


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The cyclone also brings forward discussions we need to have about our future, locally and nationally.

Northland-based Labour MPs Emily Henderson and Kelvin Davis with firefighters from Ruakākā.
Northland-based Labour MPs Emily Henderson and Kelvin Davis with firefighters from Ruakākā.

One of the big questions is how we can prepare better for the next time – because with global warming, it is now inevitable that extreme weather will become more common.

The crisis has shown a need for greater resilience in critical infrastructure like telecommunications, electricity, water and drainage. Transport resilience is also absolutely crucial, but reliance on one form of transport – roading – is outdated thinking. We need multiple options to insulate us from the multiple threats of extreme weather, floods and earthquakes, especially in a region with poor subsoil for road construction. Rail and coastal shipping are also vital alternative lifelines. Throwing all of our limited taxpayer dollars at a single option also poses the question of what we then can not afford – like a more resilient electricity system.

The Northland government MPs – Kelvin Davis, Willow-Jean Prime and myself – are already talking with central and local government, community leaders, emergency services and others on the front line about what the priorities are, and we welcome your input.


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While the cyclone has highlighted the difficult decisions ahead, we cannot afford to forget it also highlighted the extraordinary strength and goodness of our community. As we struggle with cold showers, the clean-up and heavy losses, it’s going to be hard to hold on to that spirit – but never forget it is there.

To contact Emily, email Emily.HendersonMP@parliament.govt.nz or phone 430 7922.

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