In February, exactly one month after my dad died suddenly, New Zealand experienced a massive cyclone. My hometown, in Hawke’s Bay’s Esk Valley, was hit particularly bad and all but destroyed by the flooding river. You can read about that terrifying night and the aftermath in this journal post.
Before I had even made it back to the UK, the team were already hard at work and had made a special bag collection to raise money for cyclone relief. Not long after the collection went live a friend reached out to us, Dom from Fairlight Cycles asked us if he could donate a Secan frameset in a special colourway to the fundraiser. We were very touched and of course excited at what this could mean for our fundraiser. We made a set of bags, Hope and King Cage donated components, and we launched a prize draw.
Hoping the prize draw would make at least £3,000 and setting a stretch goal of £10,000, we sent out an email to our subscribers, and Fairlight to theirs, by mid-morning we had smashed our initial goal of £3,000 and by the end of the day we’d smashed our stretch goal! By the time the prize draw ended, coupled with our special bag collection, we had raised £20,675.93
You can see the prize draw here, and all the lovely comments that keep our spirits up.
By mid-morning we had smashed our initial goal of £3,000. By the time the prize draw ended, we had raised over £20,000!
Now, over five months later, the community is trying to recover but the road ahead is long, many many people are still displaced. My dad’s house is located in a red stickered zone, we are waiting for action from the insurance company but what is left of the house will be demolished and we won’t be allowed to build on the land again. Fortunately, my brother and friends have able to dig into the house to recover some things including my nana’s dinner set and dad’s tool chest, two special family treasures.
As with many disaster relief funds, the money donated is often tied up in red tape and allocated for medium to long term recovery projects rather than directly reaching people in the community. We chose to donate to Hawke’s Bay Foundation for this reason, they set up their Cyclone Relief Fund to funnel donations direct to overwhelmed welfare agencies on the ground, and community members and projects that need it the most.
We asked if it was possible, to direct the funds to the Esk Valley, this is where I grew up, where my dad’s house is and where I was when the cyclone hit. Amy, the foundations executive officer was more than happy to do this and even took the time to call us from New Zealand.
We recently got an update about the money you helped us raise, it was gifted as part of a large funding round in June, and it is my pleasure to share with you how it is helping the community.
Amy, the foundation's executive officer even took the time to call us from New Zealand.
The bulk of it was gifted to Bay View Community Charitable Trust who have identified which houses in the Esk Valley were red or yellow stickered and have been able to make financial grants to these community members to provide short term financial security. These are people waiting for the final decision around their land and have rent/bills to pay while they wait for this news. It is an incredibly stressful and tiring time, and we are so pleased to be able to provide some relief.
A portion was also gifted to Te Huka Waiohinganga (Esk) River Care Group who are a group involved with the replanting of native trees and other plants along the Esk River. This group was already working towards improving biodiversity and water quality of the river, we hope our donation can help in the restoration of the river so that people can enjoy it for years to come.
Thank you again to everyone that donated, entered the prize draw, bought a bag, or sent a kind word. This was an important thing for us to do for the Esk Valley, and for my own personal healing journey. We are so proud to have been able to support the recovery. I hope those of you who kindly supported our fundraiser are pleased to know how your donation is directly helping people in the community.