Two more people have died in circumstances related to Cyclone Gabrielle, taking the toll to 11, police say.
“Police confirm the death of a person in their home at Onekawa, Napier on Thursday 16 February. The person is believed to have died in circumstances related to Cyclone Gabrielle.”
The second death confirmed this morning occurred in Crownthorpe, Hastings, and was reported last night, police said.
“The person is believed to have died in circumstances related to Cyclone Gabrielle.”
Nine others are already known to have died when the powerful cyclone swept down from the tropics bringing wind, rain and devastation to communities across the North Island overnight on Monday.
The biggest known loss of life so far was in Hawke’s Bay, where rivers burst their banks and sodden land gave way, sweeping young and old to their deaths.
There was also loss of life to the north, in Tairāwhiti, while two volunteer firefighters paid the ultimate price for their service to the community when a landslide came down on a stricken home in the Auckland beach community of Muriwai.
Here’s what we know about the victims so far.
Ivy Collins, 2
Ivy Collins and her mum Ella. Photo / Ella Collins
The younger of Ella and Jack Collins’ two daughters died after she was swept from her pregnant mum’s shoulders as the family tried to reach safety at a neighbour’s house, after the Esk River sent a torrent of water through homes across the Esk Valley, north of Napier, early Tuesday.
They’d woken at 3am to discover water in the house, soon realising their lives were in danger, Jack’s brother Adam Collins told the Herald.
“They were trying to come up with a plan, they had a few minutes, trying to get the dogs inside, organise the pets, and then this wave came through which added to the water in the house quite significantly, sort of halfway up the walls.
“At that point they knew they had to get out. It’s a one-storey house, they didn’t have roof space.”
Mum Ella described Ivy - “our beautiful baby girl” - as a “bright shining light … [who] charged through life with a beautiful smile on her face regardless of what stood in her way”.
The family also lost their home and a Givealittle page has been set up to support them, with $226,000 donated by this afternoon.
The impact of their daughter’s loss would last forever, Ella Collins said.
“Right now it seems an insurmountable mountain but we have each other; my husband Jack, our daughter Imogen, our baby due in August and our families, friends and community.”
John Coates, 64
Police confirmed John Robert Dudley Coates as the man found dead in floodwaters on his Te Karaka, Gisborne property. Photo / Supplied
Rescuers tried three times to reach John Coates after floodwaters engulfed his home in Te Karaka, 30km northwest of Gisborne, at 2am on Tuesday.
“It went from ankle deep to vehicles floating in 20 minutes … It was like an inland tsunami of water coming in, basically”, son Chris Coates told the Herald of the flooding caused when the Waipāoa River breached in multiple places.
“The amount of water that was located in this area has made [Cyclone] Bola look like a storm in a teacup.”
Five hundred Te Karaka residents who did make it to safety would spend 27 hours trapped on a hill waiting for help.
Coates was part of a family that had lived in the Te Karaka area for more than a century.
He told the Herald in 2013 it was “a nice thing” to be connected to a place for a long time.
“I went to school here and still know a lot of people around today that I went to school with.”
The farmer, who also ran an earth-moving company, was a “huge member of the community”, Te Karaka resident Shawn Smyth said.
“John Coates Earthmoving, he does all the forestry, roading for all of the Mangatu … everyone will know that name.”
Marie Greene, 59
Marie Greene's body was found in the roof cavity of her Puketapu cottage. Photo / File
A much-loved mum described by her daughter Rachel as “generous and kind”, Marie Greene died when the Tutaekuri River burst its banks on Tuesday morning and sent a torrent of water towards the settlement of Puketapu.
The son of Greene’s landlord found her body in the roof cavity of her cottage, 13km northwest of Napier.
On a Givealittle page set up to support Greene’s daughter, the 59-year-old’s cousin Lance Julian described the loss of “one of the most generous people you’d ever meet.
“She had the sort of personality that everyone gravitated towards. She was an all-round people person who loved being with her friends and family. She was a smiling face on the checkout at New World in Greenmeadows.”
Donations are at just over $4000 this afternoon.
George Luke, father of Kiwis star Issac Luke, died after he was hit by a slip on the Taihape-Napier Road. Photo / Supplied
The Taranaki rugby league community is mourning the death of local club stalwart George Luke, the father of former Kiwi star Issac Luke, after he died following a slip on the Taihape-Napier road as Cyclone Gabrielle swept over.
Luke and his partner Mau Goodman were returning to Hastings from Rotorua on Monday night and took the winding route over the Kaweka Ranges when bad weather closed the Napier-Taupo road.
When the family did not hear from them a desperate search was launched, with appeals being made on social media.
They were eventually located yesterday and evacuated by helicopter separately and flown to Hawke’s Bay Hospital in Hastings, where Luke later died.
Goodman is recovering.
Former Warriors and Kiwis star Issac Luke said he was “broken” by his father’s death.
“My first hero,” he wrote on social media.
“See you soon dad. I love you.”
The Hawera Hawks also paid tribute to Luke on social media, referring to him as their “tōtara tree”.
“You were always there to guide us,” they wrote.
“Father, brother, koro, uncle, mentor and a friend. We are going to miss you dearly.”
The house where Tutira woman Shona Wilson died in a slip. Photo / Supplied
A mum of three teens, Shona Wilson died when a slip crashed through her home in Tūtira, north of Napier.
Her partner, Bill Chrystal - who survived along with Wilson’s daughter - dug for several hours in the dark through up to four metres of mud in an unsuccessful attempt to save his partner of nine years.
The slip crashed through a bedroom in the corner of the house on a Matahoura Rd lifestyle block, about 4am on Tuesday, Chrystal told his son Kalin.
Had the slip been a metre closer, all three would have likely perished, said Kalin, who was flown into the area by helicopter.
A Givealittle page has been set up to help family, with donations at $10,000 this afternoon.
Dave van Zwanenberg
Volunteer firefighter Dave van Zwanenberg died in a landslide while helping at a damaged house in Muriwai, Auckland, during Cyclone Gabrielle. Photo / File
The widow of the volunteer firefighter, veterinarian and father killed in a slip at Muriwai on Monday night described him as the “cornerstone” of her family’s lives.
Dave van Zwanenberg died helping evacuate residents and is being remembered for his good humour, his authentic care, his intelligence and supreme competence at anything he turned his hand to.
Widow Amy van Zwanenberg has today said her family are utterly devastated by their loss.
“First and foremost, a family man, Dave was dedicated to spending quality time with his children and building a life to nurture their growth.”
They decided Muriwai “and its beautiful community was the perfect place for this”, with van Zwanenberg also living a full life that included being a pilot, kite surfer and ultra-marathon runner.
“But he also loved a good book on the deck.”
Monday night started as “just another occasion where Dave made sure we were settled and safe at home and headed out to join the fire brigade and help his community.
“Reliability and dependability were his core values, whatever the weather.”
She was grateful to Urban Search and Rescue, police and all the fire and emergency crews who helped after the incident, but especially to her husband’s brigade - who were deeply affected by the tragedy - and friends who’d immediately come to her family’s aid.
“You give me the strength to continue to be the mum I need to be, to help Dave’s beautiful children thrive despite this pain, and to be the legacy that he would be most proud of.”
Muriwai Fire Service has set up an official Givealittle fund to support families of both van Zwanenberg and his colleage, Craig Stevens, who also died as a result of the landslide. More than $133,000 has been raised by this afternoon.
Volunteer firefighter Craig Stevens is survived by his wife Lucy and his two children Kauri, 6, and Tai, 4. Photo / Supplied
Muriwai firefighter Craig Stevens died in hospital two days after he was critically injured in the same slip that killed his colleague Dave van Zwanenberg.
Friends have set up a Givealittle for Stevens, to help support his wife Lucy and children Kauri, 6, and Tai, 4. Donations were at $191,000 this afternoon.
“I met ‘Rock n Roll Craig’ when he moved to Oxford, aged 16,” friend Alex Leech said.
“We went to many skateparks, saw bands, and listened to lots of music. I’m not really sure if he was like my son or my brother, but he was always my guide and mentor.
“He grabbed life with both hands and shook it into submission, no matter what the situation,” he said in a social media tribute.
Stevens once said his mum told him to walk into any room like he owned the place, and “he sure did do that”, Leech said.
“Well stand aside Jesus, there’s a new guy in charge of heaven now.”
Four victims have not yet been publicly identified:
- A person found washed up on a beach in Bay View, Napier, on Tuesday
- A man aged in his 70s found in Waiohiki, Hawke’s Bay on Thursday
- A person found in their home in Onekawa, Napier, on Thursday
- A person found in Crownthorpe, Hastings, last night
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