From the mayor’s desk: the hidden economic impact of Cyclone Gabrielle

Our summer seems to be just hitting its stride right now and it’s time to spread the word we’re here, we’re open for business, and we welcome you to Northland. Photo / Michael Cunningham


The question I ask myself every morning is, how much more can our Northland businesses take?

How much more resilient can we ask them to be? That word, “resilience”, is starting to wear pretty thin. It feels like every time we inch towards recovery, we’re hit by another economic bombshell, and everything is reset back to that word: “resilience”.

Right now, in the wake of Cyclone Hale, the Auckland Anniversary weekend flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle, we don’t need to talk about resilience, what we need is for domestic and international tourism to start picking back up again. Unfortunately, State Highway One is still only partially open, and the detour routes are deterring all but the most determined of travellers.


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The estimated economic impact to Northland is well over the conservative figure of $1 million a day, with our local hospitality and retail businesses again feeling the pinch.

The impacts of our poor roading network aren’t just contained to the obvious sectors, however, as our reduced and delayed freight is affecting everything from supermarket stock through to construction works. This is in addition to the cost of increased wear and tear on vehicles and the detour routes themselves, which were not designed to handle such heavy loads of traffic.

We need two things right now. Funding and visitors.

The first, I’m campaigning for as hard as I possibly can. Today, we met with Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty. In preparation for his visit, our council worked with the Northland Transportation Alliance to create a booklet showing the compound effects of 2022-23 extreme weather events on our regional local roading network. We also shared an updated report on the effects to our region from Cyclone Gabrielle, including the economic impact. It is my hope that McAnulty takes this information back to Cabinet and takes action to meet our Northland needs.


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The second, I’m putting out to you all. Tell your friends, relatives, and work colleagues that our district is very much open for business.

Our summer seems to be just hitting its stride right now, and these blue skies make for great beach weather! It’s a perfect time to visit the Hundertwasser Art Centre, and you can always be sure of top-notch food at the cafes and restaurants along the waterfront at the Town Basin in Whangārei, then why not travel further up North and visit Tāne Mahuta, the Hokianga and the Bay of Islands.

We are packing a summer’s-worth of events, markets, sporting activities and celebrations into every weekend, so tell your contacts to book a night up here and make a weekend of it.

Northland, we are working hard for our residents and businesses, campaigning for, and promoting our district and our region, and the best thing we can do right now is to spread the word: we’re here, we’re open for business, and we welcome you to Northland.

* Vince Cocurullo is mayor of Whangārei.

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